While we have been discussing the utility of compliance officers using social media and social networking sites as a primary investigative tool, perhaps a short case study might provide a better illustration for the reader.
When the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published the Panama Papers, which spelled out in painful detail the criminal activities that the law firm of Mossack and Fonseca were engaged in, our attention focused upon all members and employees of the firm, not just the name partners.
How did I identify all the players at MF ?
(1) There were no complete group photos of the law firm's staff, but if there were we could have used a facial recognition software system to identify them.
(2) I pulled all the names of MF attorneys that were mentioned in Panamanian media, and went to the LinkedIn pages of each of them. LinkedIn has a useful feature showing what other profiles have been viewed by individuals who accessed the profile that you are looking at. It appears at the extreme right-hand side of the page. That led me not only to the other current MF lawyers, it also allowed me a window into other attorneys who were formerly MF, but had left the firm. Remember, employment history is a valuable investigative tool; it allows you to make connections and relationships you might not otherwise find.
(3) When it came to the secretaries, paralegal assistants, clerks and other staff, I found a couple of support staff on the "People Also Viewed" feature. Then, by going to those pages, I was able to identify a large percentage of the MF staff. I found several others by accessing Facebook pages of the paralegals and secretaries that I had already identified. A few names were extracted from the Panama Papers correspondence and that is when I realized that several non-attorney staffers at MF were essentially Practicing Law without a License, by giving legal advice to clients about how to be totally opaque in their dealings, and what potential exposure they might have as a result.
Social media and social networking sites often provide critical data about your target, as well as images of him with other associates, family and friends whom you can then check out, for still more information.