5 free resources for high tech crimes investigators

high tech crime investigators resourcesLast week I wrote about the need to become better informed on high tech crimes, the better to help victims of identity theft, cyberstalking, and other complex crimes. Fortunately, free resources exist.

TLO

Designed for agencies that can’t afford a subscription to Lexis-Nexis’ Accurint or ChoicePoint, TLO is rapidly becoming a strong competitor for both services, and is a viable alternative for small or medium-sized agencies with no budget. That’s because Accurint’s designer is behind it, and boasts a team of law enforcement, prosecutors, programmers, scientists, and executives — many of whom have worked together for decades.

Take time to poke around the site and register for the service — you won’t be disappointed.

National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C)

The NW3C provides quite a few resources, including free training, free investigative assistance, and even financial support for some cases. The catches: first, a case must have a tie to financial crime (though nearly all high tech crime cases do). And second, the agency must be a member.

However, once the agency is signed up — again for free — the NW3C provides a wealth of assistance. It runs information through all major databases and provides free software — along with the training to use it — such as TUX4N6 for on-site previews, PerpHound for mapping GPS or cell tower coordinates, and others.

In addition, the NW3C has a partnership with the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to sponsor the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a good resource to which to direct citizens when you can’t take the report or don’t have the resources to investigate yourself.

NCIC Off-Line Search

The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Off-Line Search is, because of the power of NCIC’s online searches, vastly underutilized. However, it could “could assist an investigator in locating an item of property, determine the proximity of an individual to a crime scene, substantiate or discredit an alibi, or trace the route of a person of interest.” It exists, in other words, to provide leads and obtain information not generally available through an online query.

The Off-Line Search has been used to help identify and capture Timothy McVeigh, recover stolen vehicles and kidnapping victims, and solve murders. It is accessible via email, phone or NLETS.

LocalCrimeNews.com

Though not originally designed for law enforcement, LocalCrimeNews.com provides instant updates anytime a suspect or convict is arrested anywhere else in the nation. This is a tool that’s valuable for information sharing — if the name you’re tracking shows up in your email, you have only to contact the arresting agency to take your investigation one step further.

The Hi-Tech Resources Listserv

Lots of listservs, forums and other resources exist for high tech crimes investigators. Some are available after you become a member of the sponsoring organization. Others are free, but are focused on areas like digital forensics.

The Hi-Tech Resources Listserv, however, was founded as a way to share search warrant, corporate liaison contact, and investigative information. Originally a resource for investigators in northern and central California, the Yahoo! list has rapidly expanded to include more than 1,000 members in states as far east as New Jersey.

Resources include regularly updated law enforcement liaison information for internet and cell service providers, cell service provider data retention records, sample search warrants and subpoenas, and information related to specific crimes including high-tech stalking, child exploitation and identity theft.

Listowner Kipp Loving, a detective in central California, tells me that instructors from SEARCH and the NW3C encourage their trainees nationwide to join the list. To join, you need to be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Full name with agency name
  • Contact information (phone or e-mail, preferably work address and not a Yahoo email)

This information is kept confidential and the list is limited to law enforcement. Be prepared to have your affiliation verified before you join!

What free tools are your favorites, and why?

Image: KOMUnews via Flickr

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