We are often asked about how to find certain pieces of information about someone. Like whether they are married. Where they live. What date they were born. Whether they have any money. Where they work. What kind of person they are. Or what they are up to.
Which got me thinking.
What if you wanted to find out everything about someone? Literally everything, including what they ate for lunch yesterday.
Would that be possible?
I often tell clients that anything is possible. Any motivated party can find out (just about) anything about someone. But everything?
This, of course, means sticking to all legal and ethical boundaries that we have. I am sure some other people might have some more nefarious methods, like hacking into someone’s computer or phone, either of which is pretty much the hub of all personal information (if you don’t believe me, just ask the FBI).
So here we go…
No public record would be too small, including criminal records, civil lawsuits, judgments, liens, bankruptcies, property records, motor vehicle records, watercraft records, U.S. Tax Court and U.S. Court of Claims filings, professional licenses, voter registration records, corporate records, fictitious business name filings and even Uniform Commercial Code filings.
Not only would I conduct research through multiple database aggregators, such as Lexis Nexis and Westlaw (duplicating wherever possible) and direct sources (county clerk websites, court websites, etc.), I would also send people to the individual courts, secretaries of state and clerks’ offices to pull every single piece of paper that has the person’s name on it.
Every. Single. One.
I would even go to the extent of contacting every police department in each town/city the person lived in, checking by name, aliases and addresses to see whether they ever had any run-ins with the law, regardless of how minor they were (jaywalking included). I learned my lesson recently when doing some research on a person who seemed like a perfectly nice gentleman, until I found out that he had been harassing his neighbors for the past 15 years.
And I would go back to every town, city, county and state that the person had lived in since turning 18 (most everything before that would have occurred when a person was a minor, which in most states means the information is off limits).
Open source searches
Next I would tackle open source searches. This means anything that may not necessarily fall within public records (e.g., some type of government document), such as historical news media, employment history, education history and professional affiliations.
I would even go to the local libraries where the person had lived and scour the local newspapers for anything I could get my hands on. College newspapers too. High school and college yearbooks also might be a good source. I’d be looking for not-so-flattering information, gaps in employment history, downright lies or ties to nefarious characters.
Our open source searches would include various Internet searches. You don’t want to just Google a name. And you would want to make sure you go to at least page 2 of Google results. After all, you do want to find out everything, right?
All this information would be crafted in a running time line, making sure that every single hole in the person’s life was filled, from the moment they were born through grade school, secondary school and their professional career, up to the moment you started looking into the person. I’d also be keeping an eye on anyone in their immediate family, close friends and colleagues.
Next, I would dive into social media. Whether or not the person is active on social media, chances are they are somewhere out there; you just need to find them or their footprint.
First, I would start with some of the big ones like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, making sure that I uncover every nook and cranny to find their profiles. If I can’t find them (after all, not everyone is on social media), I would dig through family and friends’ profiles to see whether I can backdoor my way into some information.
Once I found their profiles (or their friends/family’s profiles), I would download and save snapshots of every single page I come across for future reference (you never know whether the posts/photos will be there the next time you check). Once I found these profiles, I would review and analyze every single photo, mention or post for clues about the person’s close family and colleagues, likes and dislikes, and even enemies.
You would want to spend extra time mining places like Facebook – not only because a site like Facebook has oodles of data that is behind the scenes, but because it’s got over 1 billion people on it. It’s more than likely that the person’s picture is on there somewhere, even if they don’t actively participate.
And don’t forget about the hundreds of smaller social media sites. They might be more niche, but they can provide a wealth of information. Make sure you plug the person’s username or handle into a database like Knowem to search hundreds of social networks to see whether their name has been used somewhere.
Everyone can do a Google search. But at this level, you will need to go beyond simple search engine searches. You need to scour the depths of the Internet to find fake profiles that the person might have created or identify them on lists they shouldn’t be on (Ashley Madison, anyone?). Maybe they posted on some historic message board under one of their various alter egos or handles.
Don’t underestimate the power of the Internet.
So far, we have spent a lot of time sitting behind a computer. Some investigators think that focusing on information on the Internet is “disgusting.”
Personally, I think it’s smart, in part because everything I have done up to this point has been completely discreet. As long as you have been careful, the person you are investigating will never know what you are doing.
Now, let’s get into the not-so-discreet stuff.
Everything we have done up to this point provides a pretty good picture about someone. But when you want to find out everything about someone, you need to know what they are up to right now. What their routines are. Where they shop, work and bank. And of course, who they meet up with.
Surveillance is meant to be discreet. But sometimes, things don’t always go as planned. So just be careful. Use several people to conduct surveillance. Rotate surveillance vehicles and surveillance operatives. Get close, but not too close. You don’t want to get burned.
Track their habits. Know where they go. Who they meet. And of course, find out what they eat for lunch.
This may get dirty, but you can certainly find out quite a bit about a person through their trash. When a person throws something out, that item is now in the public domain. Effectively, if you put out your garbage on a public street where it is accessible to members to the public, it’s open for anyone to take. (If you go on private property, though, that’s a whole different ball game.)
What kind of information might one find?
Certainly what they ate for dinner. And probably quite a bit of junk mail.
But think about what else could be in there – personal documents, bank statements, medical bills, tax documents, etc.
The list of possibilities is endless.
Human intelligence means identifying and interviewing people who are familiar with a person. They include friends, colleagues, family members, business partners, neighbors, investors, investment partners, etc. You want a good cross-section of people from various points in the person’s life that encompasses their personal and professional past.
But you also want to find opponents in litigation, or people who they have had disputes with. They say that you find out a lot about person when they have their back up against a wall.
You don’t want to skimp on this. And with each person you talk to, you want to make sure that you get at least three good referrals of someone else to speak to.
You need to be careful. At this point, things are probably going to get back to the person you are looking into. It’s just inevitable.
There you have it. How you can find out everything about someone. Of course, this all comes at a price. Like around $100,000 or so.
Email us for our bank details to wire us the money.