OSINT + Traditional Investigating = Huge savings for the insurance industry
We recently met up with Lars Torp, a former Detective with the Danish national cyber crime unit and subsequent insurance claims fraud investigator, who told us all about his experience of OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) and online investigating.
Lars had plenty of stories from his years as an insurance investigator, and how OSINT can really benefit the industry. Like the Norwegian truck driver who applied for 5 million Norwegian kronor, claiming his back was so badly injured that he could no longer drive. But who, Lars discovered after a little online research, was not being entirely honest. It transpired that the man was a – practising – speed skater. A fact that was reinforced by a video clip the man had uploaded onto YouTube – of himself speed skating after the alleged injury. All of this evidence had, unsurprisingly, been removed from the internet by the time the insurance company reviewed Lars’ intelligence a few months later. Luckily Lars had already downloaded and kept a copy of the clip.
“Facebook is an excellent source of information, mainly for compiling a bigger picture and putting together a map of the subject’s various connections. So, you can find them and then just pick up the data from there.”
Lars went on to tell us about a number of other injury-related insurance claims in which OSINT investigation methods proved successful. His online research enabled him to compile catalogues of images and videos that had been posted on the various social media channels over a certain period of time, then document his findings and use them to demonstrate any discrepancies in the claim.
Minimizing traditional investigation work
Cases like these are surprisingly common and, according to Lars, the majority of investigators already use social media for their preliminary research work. And, for most insurance companies, online research is now a standard part of the claims process. With OSINT, he tells us, you can do a huge amount of the work from the comfort of your office.
“This kind of investigation doesn’t really take that long. Just two or three hours of online research.”
Fewer resources – same results
Not only does this kind of information provide investigators with hard evidence, it can also provide them with a place and a time so they can locate their subject for further investigation. Which is exactly how online research at the beginning of an investigation can save investigators a huge amount of time and resources. In other words, it’s all about using any intelligence you find on the internet to assist and streamline your traditional investigation work. And then combining the two methods to build up a comprehensive picture.
“Say you’re dealing with an injury claim. They tell you that they’re physically unable to do anything. But then you discover images of them working out at the gym after the event.”
Rather than spending several days physically observing a subject, who often lives in another town, you can now achieve the same results with just a few hours of online research. So not only are you cutting hours and hours of extra work, sometimes involving two investigators, but you’re also making huge savings on travel, accommodation and local contacts or fixers.
OSINT benefits everyone
And OSINT isn’t just for insurance companies, of course. Law enforcement agencies, companies that carry out background checks, law firms, media companies, you name it. Any company that collects data as part of the service it provides can benefit from integrating OSINT into their investigation work.
If you are curious about trying Paliscope you can download our free Community edition here. Also, if you have any suggestions about features or workflows from your OSINT investigations, we would love to know. Please contact us via e-mail, social media or in our forum (myPaliscope).