As another example of the extensive investigatory power available to federal authorities, a U.S. marshal connected the dots between a 1987 case and a recently arrested suspect. In this case, however, the authorities made the connection after a simple Google search. The defendant, a Harvard law graduate and former army intelligence captain who disappeared in 1984, will now face federal fraud charges.
Authorities arrested the defendant under an alias in connection with a multi-million dollar fraud case. The defendant allegedly used a South Florida organization to pose as a charity. The fake charity, U.S. Navy Veterans Association, made $2 million from donors through a telemarketing scheme. Police have already discovered $1 million hidden in a storage locker.
However, the case against this defendant took a turn when a U.S. marshal made a series of Google searches on a Friday afternoon.
The searches ultimately turned up photos of the same defendant, linking him to his true name. With the defendant's real name in hand, investigators connected the dots to his military career and Harvard education. They also discovered an indictment dating back to 1987 in another fraud case. The defendant disappeared in 1984 and assumed an alias, allowing him to evade that prosecution.
Federal authorities are apparently also investigating this defendant's participation in an espionage case.
This case is another illustration of how technology is revolutionizing the investigative reach of law enforcement authorities across the country. Even publicly available resources like Internet search engines make it much easier for government agencies to uncover crimes, track defendants, and prepare effective prosecutions.
Source: CNN, "Google search reveals true identity of suspect in Navy scam," Alan Duke, Oct. 1, 2012