CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Usually the first thing a bank robber does after making off with a large heist is upload a photo to Facebook and flash the stolen money, an online criminal investigations expert said this week.
That's why police investigations have to keep up with the more than 900 million people using social media websites around the world, said Indiana State Police Lt. Chuck Cohen, commander of that state's special investigations and criminal intelligence section.
Cohen will instruct West Virginia law enforcement officers Thursday during a training event hosted in Raleigh County by the National White Collar Crime Center. Cohen has shaped his investigation techniques over the years focusing on cyber crime, online fraud, money laundering and Internet crimes against children.
"One of the general topics we will be discussing is using online social media for criminal investigations," he said. "We can start by looking at what information people post online whether it's a victim, witness, suspect or an informant."
People's concept of "public versus private" has come a long way in the past few decades especially for those under 30. These days people -- including criminal suspects -- expect to have email or some basic online presence, he said.
"Sometimes in a criminal organization people are posting information that they wouldn't tell the most trusted people in that organization," Cohen said. "Yet they are still putting it online."
Cohen trains police to search websites for these kinds of posts and to learn more about those who are being victimized.
"What a suspect puts out there and what information is maintained by Internet service providers, these are things that can be obtained by search warrants," he said.
Today suspects don't even need to be in the same country to commit a crime, he said: "There's no such thing as a local investigation anymore."