According to a recent report, criminals including drug traffickers, extortionists, and even bank robbers continue to post clues about their crimes on social media platforms such as Facebook. According to one retired New York City detective, “The ‘look at me’ generation can’t help themselves.”
A recent report from Quartz titled “Drug Traffickers, Extortionists, and Bank Robbers Keep Posting Clues to Their Crimes on Facebook” outlines how criminals are using social media platforms such as Facebook to brag about their crimes, often leaving clues.
Justin Rohrlich writes in Quartz, describing how social media helped catch a major drug dealer:
Ruelas-Payan posted lengthy videos to the social media platform of himself driving to suspected drug deals, according to a DEA search warrant application unsealed late last month. The trips were further corroborated by GPS data from electronic tracking devices investigators placed on Ruelas-Payan’s cars and phone.
“During one of the videos, Ruelas-Payan points out a red pick-up truck and shouts out his window in Spanish ‘good-bye pig!’” said DEA agent Geoffrey Provenzale in a sworn affidavit. “Based on my training and experience I know the term ‘pig’ is a derogatory term for a police officer.”
One of Provenzale’s colleagues drove a red pickup truck during their investigation, the affidavit explains. And while the red truck Ruelas-Payan saw was not the one the DEA was using to follow him, the video revealed that Ruelas-Payan knew law enforcement had been watching him.
The report goes on to note that criminals posting about their crimes is not exactly a rare phenomenon, in fact, many extensively discussing illegal activities across Facebook. The report states:
Facebook received nearly 130,000 data requests from governments around the world during the first six months of 2019, according to the most recent figures available. Between January and June of last year, the US government requested data from Facebook related to more than 82,000 accounts. About 88% of those requests were granted. The second-most requests came from the government of India, which asked for data on 33,000 accounts. Facebook agreed to provide about half of them.
Yet people often leave a trail of clues on their public social media profiles that investigators can see without ever needing a subpoena.
Some, for example, take to Facebook Live to discuss an impending $10 million extortion attempt.
In another example, one bank robber posted photos of himself to Facebook wearing the same clothes he would later wear to rob a bank.
Joseph Giacalone, a former New York City detective sergeant who now teaches police procedure at John Jay College, spoke to Quartz about criminals utilizing social media stating: “If I was still running a squad, we could make a living just off of this foolishness. Social media has made fools out of a lot of people. The ‘look at me’ generation can’t help themselves.”
Read the full article in Quartz here.