Caught in the Web
Posted on 27 April, 2011 by CEO
Author: Natalia Sorokoumova
A Russian citizen has found Kazakhstan criminals wanted by the financial police – in the social network. But local officials are not sitting idly by. The "K" department of the Criminal Police in Almaty reports that criminals can be found in the World Wide Web even if they are hiding behind an assumed name.
According to Roman Romachev, director a Russian online project Business Intelligence Technologies, and CEO of R-Techno Company – who actually helped the financial police to locate two dangerous criminals - the search took him only a couple of hours.
They hide neither their faces, nor their location, says Roman. They spread all the information about themselves, their family and friends in the social network Odnoklassniki.ru. There was no reason for me act on, so I submitted the information to the law enforcement agencies of Kazakhstan. They did appreciate my initiative. The immediately assigned a contact person for me and gave me his mobile phone number. In fact, law enforcement agencies of Russia and Belarus just did not want to talk me saying they don’t need my assistance. Unlike them, Kazakh law enforcement agencies are much more responsive. Eventually, I have found for your financial police two guys who were wanted for economic crimes. The police took up my information and used it for further investigation. Naturally, they didn’t report to me about the course of search operations, yet I advised the police on several issues related to the identification of individuals on the Net.
Q. Roman, do you - as a former officer of the FSB of Russia - think it is possible for intelligence and law enforcement agencies of Kazakhstan to look for criminals through the Internet, or are they insufficiently equipped for this kind of activity?
A. Well, as the saying goes, there are no former intelligence officers. Yes, I think it is possible and advisable to look for them over the Net. This will require engaging the operational staff in the operational and search activities on the Web, that is, to learn the Internet intelligence.
However, the police captain named Victor (he asked not to mention his last name) has another opinion on this issue. He believes the K dept staff works well and smoothly.
A. I strongly disagree that we are poorly equipped in terms of technology. And the staff of our department is highly competent; otherwise the "K" department wouldn’t have existed at all.
Q. Victor, have you come across such assistants as Roman in your practice?
A. No. Despite the fact that we engage the media, the Internet and other communication sources, I can’t recall anybody who has helped us in locating a criminal. If there is a good citizen eager to help us in this difficult matter, we will certainly respond. The hackneyed phrase – a criminal must go to jail - is relevant in all times. And if there is a helper, we will do our best for our part. We guarantee confidentiality – as you know many people refuse to help because they fear of reaction from relatives or associates of the criminal. We, I repeat, will do everything to protect our assistant from unwanted consequences. There are lots of ways to inform us about a criminal – over the hot phone line, to a police station, or the website of the Almaty Police Department. They can always call our department as well.
Q. How often do criminals register in the social networks? Do they divulge their real personal data?
A. Anything can happen. I can not say that every second a criminal is registered in the social media, but it happens. Typically, they log in to the networks under assumed names. If a man is wanted nationally or even internationally, he will first of all change his name. So we monitor the process, figure them out and take measures.
Q. Is it easy to figure out a criminal in a social network where so many people are registered?
A. I wouldn’t say it is easy. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you all the details - otherwise the criminals will know how we catch them. I can only say that we find ways to search for every attempt to evade responsibility. For example, the Russian marshal service has found a way to combat malicious alimony defaulters. They look for them in the social networks, then they register there disguised as a pretty girl and make friends. Then they appoint a date – you get the scheme. We keep up with our neighbors, so we have our own trade secrets.
Q. Who are the criminals hiding in the social networks - minor swindlers or criminals who are wanted for more serious crimes?
A. All sorts of. Sometimes we find people who have been wanted for several years and have been living outside of Kazakhstan for years. In this case, we can not catch them through traditional methods. But thanks to new technologies we can locate them – then we only have to detain and extradite them to their homeland. As for the opinion that we lack technological equipment, I strongly disagree – otherwise the "K" department wouldn’t have existed at all. In conclusion, I want to say that there are always ways to locate a criminal no matter how hard he tries to hide away.
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