Archive for the ‘Criminal Investigation’ Category

Custom Blackberry CEO busted

March 13, 2018

This article reports a multi-national investigation by the U.S., Canada, and Australia into a company that provided custom Blackberry devices for secure communication within private networks, with encryption and remote “wiping” if a phone was seized by authorities. About 20,000 of the devices are in circulation with a clientele that includes drug cartels and transnational organized crime groups. The company’s CEO was arrested last week.


Free course — antiquities trafficking and art crime

February 18, 2018

The University of Glasgow offers a free on-line course “Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime,” lasting 3 weeks, 4 hours per week. Information and course enrollment available here.

Cyber crimes under-reported and under-investigated

February 5, 2018

This article discusses the huge challenge facing law enforcement agencies dealing with cyber crimes and other newer forms of hi-tech crime. One impediment is crime reporting systems designed a century ago. Efforts have been underway for 30 years to update and refine the Uniform Crime Reports, without much progress yet.

3D printing — implications & applications

January 25, 2018

This article explains how 3D printing works and provides numerous examples of its use in committing as well as investigating crimes. As the authors note, “You can purchase a basic 3D printer, which fits on a desk, for well under $1,000 … this technology is widely available and relatively simple to use for both lawful and illicit purposes.”

Better interviewing & interrogation

January 21, 2018

Here’s an interview with a Norwegian former homicide investigator who has studied suspect interviewing techniques around the world and applied them during his police career, starting with the UK’s PEACE model and adding strategic elements. The key is to foster communication and respect rather than starting with a “confession mindset.” Otherwise, false confessions become too likely, allowing the real offenders to go undetected.

Owning up

January 2, 2018

Many jurisdictions suffered the problem of untested rape kits over the last 10-20 years, often due to insufficient crime lab capacity. This article reports an unusual step taken by police in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where 333 kits were destroyed starting in 1999 to make space in the evidence room. When the PD recognized the situation in 2015, they publicly announced what had happened and then began individually contacting the victims with an explanation and apology.

Coroner versus forensic pathologist

December 12, 2017

This article reports the resignation of the San Joaquin County, California forensic pathologist over disagreements with his sheriff/coroner. In 50 of the state’s counties a pathologist determines cause of death but then the sheriff/coroner has the final say on manner of death. The resigning pathologist had several deaths that he ruled homicide but which the sheriff labeled accidents, including death-in-custody cases.

Phantom debt scam

December 9, 2017

Estimates are that Americans are late on $600 billion in payments and 10% are on debt collectors’ lists. That’s a lot of real debt plus an opening for big-time fraud. Here’s an interesting story about a man who got harassed and threatened over a loan he had already repaid, leading him to unravel a huge fake debt scam, the head of which allegedly took in over $2 billion in a decade, bought a private jet, and started his own Ferrari racing team.

New fingerprint algorithm

November 1, 2017

This article and this video report a new fingerprint algorithm developed by the FBI that has so far identified over 200 bodies of unknown persons recovered decades ago. The technique substantially improves the hit rate on low-quality and single-finger prints.

Science of interrogation

October 29, 2017

This article provides an in-depth discussion of the psychology underlying effective interrogation. A study of over 1,000 hours of taped interrogations of terrorists confirmed that the key is rapport and projecting a genuine interest in what the suspect has to say, not trying to establish dominance or using confrontational techniques. Specialist training in the UK is now based on this research and well established methods from clinical psychology.