It is fascinating to see an investigation using dark web technology showing how criminal syndicates work and the process stolen equipment goes through. Today’s guest is Anthony van der Meer. Anthony is a Dutch investigative journalist and filmmaker. As a filmmaker, he has been focusing on the dark side of the digital world since 2015. For his investigations, he dives deep into the world of cyber criminals by infiltrating using OSINT and ethical hacking. He was recently a speaker at the Global Online Spam Summit on the dark web and cyber crime.“It’s almost always organized crime.” - Anthony van der Meer Click To Tweet
- [0:55] – Anthony shares his background and what he does in his current role.
- [2:12] – While working in film, he realized he really liked documentary and investigative work.
- [3:42] – Hacking is doing something different with a product than it’s originally designed or intended for.
- [5:21] – Anthony describes an experience of his phone being stolen and it was done in a very professional and organized way.
- [7:24] – Anthony’s film on this experience, called Find My Phone, went viral in 2016.
- [8:51] – Currently, Anthony is working on a television series.
- [11:03] – Scams are almost always through organized crime.
- [12:27] – Anthony has even found surprising rituals involved.
- [14:15] – He describes an experience in tricking a scammer.
- [16:10] – The groups of organized crime are divided into groups and are very sophisticated and structured.
- [18:40] – Another surprise was the extremes the scammers went through to establish a believable connection, including cyber sex.
- [21:14] – In another experience, the scammer in contact with Anthony even offered to have someone pick up money from his own home.
- [23:41] – In the end, Anthony was able to get the scammer to confess.
- [25:29] – Because of his work, Anthony has actually received death threats.
- [27:40] – Anthony shares that some scam companies are making $15,000 per month per employee.
- [30:01] – During Covid-19 lockdowns, some people took the new opportunity of being stuck at home for money laundering.
- [33:18] – There is quite a lot of cyber warfare happening in Ukraine.
- [36:21] – When people are eager for information, it is easy for fake news to be injected.
- [40:00] – There are many ways to investigate and verify information.
- [41:11] – OSINT techniques are now being taught to journalists.
- [42:24] – How are groups that are talking about these topics found?
- [45:01] – You can find Anthony’s translated films on YouTube.
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- Rats and Slaves
- Find my Phone
Anthony, thank you so much for coming on the Easy Prey Podcast today.
Thank you for having me.
Can you give myself and the audience a little bit of background about who you are, what you do, and what got you into the field?
Those are a lot of questions. I'm Anthony van der Meer. That's in Dutch. That's why it sounds a little bit weird. I am an investigative journalist. I've been doing this for over seven years. I focus only on cybersecurity, cybercrime, and privacy.
Besides that, I'm also an open-source intelligence researcher, so I do a lot of work in Ukraine, for instance. I do that for one of the biggest news corporations in the Netherlands.
Besides all of that, all the experience I gained from this early work, I use as a trainer. I work as a visiting trainer for one of the biggest think tanks in the Netherlands, The Clingendael Institute. That's my background or at least what I'm doing now.
How I got into this is a long story. I'm going to give you the short version. I studied film. While I was studying, I wanted to do fiction. That was my main interest. During my studies, I was forced to do some documentary work as well, and I quite liked it. I liked it a lot, especially the investigative version of just not knowing what you're going to get at the end of the production.
Because I wanted to study film and I wanted to do fiction, I also thought about studying psychology. At the time, I could do a minor in psychology somewhere else. I had to do an exchange thing, but the art academy that I was at was too late with my forms, so they didn't apply me. Probably kind of manipulative because they got a lot more money if I stayed and did a minor in their own university.
I was forced to pick one of theirs. There were only a couple of minor studies left and one of them was hacking, not in the terms of computer hacking but in a broader version. It was the whole mindset. I would define hacking as doing something different with a product than it's originally designed or intended for. Using the coffee machine to make alcohol, for instance, is kind of a life hack, but of course, hacking a webcam is also literally using a webcam in a way it's not intended to be used for.
Then, things came together because my iPhone got stolen during that time. It got stolen in a really sneaky way. I think it was a pretty young girl. She came up to my table. I was sitting in Amsterdam having lunch with a friend in a café. She came to our table and she had a paper in front of her which had text but it wasn't Dutch. It wasn't English. It wasn't any real language. It's just made-up words. She's pointing at it. She had tears in her eyes. She said, “Help, help,” and pointed at that thing, so we're pretty confused, but at the same time, it’s a little bit suspicious.
The whole time, I was thinking, “OK, I have to make sure I still have my wallet. I have to make sure I still have my bag.” Some waitress sent her away. We were just chilling. When we got the check, the waitress said, “Hey, sorry about the little incident. Do you still have everything?” I was like, “Yeah.” “Do you have your bag?” Check. “Do you have your wallet?” Check. “Do you have your phone?” I was like, “Where's my phone?”
What she actually did was she was holding the paper, but with her pinkie, she was lifting my phone off the table while she was pointing at the paper. The paper was covering my phone. That made me think, because the way she stole it was really, really professional and really well-trained. She was probably part of a pickpocketing gang. Those are really common in Amsterdam.
I started wondering what would happen to a phone once it gets stolen. Where will it end up? There were a couple of TV shows and a couple of things I read about it, but those all ended with catching a thief and not the whole thing after that.
The second part was that Find My iPhone was just introduced at the time. We tracked the phone immediately and we saw the little dot move on the map, but once we got close to the dot, it went offline. She just took out the SIM card, and then, of course, you don't have an Internet connection, so you can't follow your phone.
The third thing was I was actually making notes on my phone and the phone was unlocked on the table, so when my phone got stolen, she had access to everything on my phone. That made me wonder if she could get to know me through my phone. She would read my texts or look through my photos. What would she think about me? Could she paint a little portrait of me? I thought, “OK, what if I turn this whole thing around?”
I made a bait phone with the purpose of it getting stolen by one of those gangs, and it happened eventually. I took an Android phone, tried to make it infected with spyware, and made it so that even if you reset the phone, the spyware would still be on there.
It took a lot of time and effort because I was also a filmmaker and an IT specialist, of course. I went to a lot of IT specialists and they all said, “No, that's impossible. Once the phone gets factory reset, everything's gone.” Then, I went to the dark web, and then I found out it was possible. It's quite easy to do it once you know how. It sparked my interest in that whole area.
The film I made called Find My Phone went viral at the time. I think in 2016 it went viral. It got on the news all over the world. Because I wanted to make the main points that I was trying to make in the film about privacy, I took every media opportunity. I got to give interviews. It grew and grew, and that gave me the opportunity to make more films. That's how I started my career.
What got you involved in the OSINT community and just beyond talking about what happened to your phone?
Good question. During the production of that first film, I did everything myself because I didn't have any budget. I learned a lot by just doing it and researching everything online. That gave me a couple of new subjects to work on. I've made a film about remote access Trojans and how you can buy access to a random computer for $0.40 apiece.
Also, I got a little bit of hacking experience because I wanted to demonstrate how easy it is, a legal gray area—more blackish than gray to be honest. I had a hacking experience and I came up with the concept Bait, my latest TV show.
Bait is a show where I entrap myself purposefully. I fall victim to cybercriminals, phishing gangs, or dating fraudsters, for instance, to find out how those guys operate and what their exact process is, because every time you try to interview a victim, you don't really get a clear picture of what actually happened. You only get a picture of what they think happened.
I just become the perfect victim for, for instance, a dating fraudster or a romance scammer with a fake profile, figure out how they work, and also try to figure out and reverse engineer a way into their systems to try to hack them eventually.
I use a lot of open-source research for that because of the legality of this whole area. It basically comes down to if I don't have to hack, I won't hack. If I'm going to do something slightly gray area issue, I'll try to minimize the impact. If I can just phish an email address and it's enough to find out who the guy is behind the dating scammer, that will be enough, but sometimes you have to go further.
That gave me a lot of new skills because I do all the things myself. What I do is I just research subjects, film myself while I'm researching it, and that becomes a film with a second layer most times about what it does to me, for instance.
When you're investigating this, have you, in general, found that these people that you're becoming bait for are individuals, or is it a more organized crime, gang, or larger organization?
It's almost always organized crime. That surprised me a little bit. For the romance scammers, we entrapped about seven persons. I think two or three of them […] Google Play cards or gift cards, so they didn't need any money laundering ring, but all the others had pretty sophisticated networks of money laundering. I call them pickers.
They're all based in the same area or in the same group. They're all from West Africa, so Togo, Ghana, and Nigeria, which made sense because they just have a little bit of an organization there but also a youth culture thing. They write films about what they're doing, they make music videos about it, and they sell all the methods online on Yahoo Telegram channels, for instance, or on dark web forums. They talk in their own Nigerian language or with a really thick accent, and they help each other out in that way.
It's really, really interesting to also find out more about that. They even add voodoo rituals into this whole scamming thing. Once or twice, we had to do a little spell and a blood bond thing where we had to show that we took blood out of our finger and said a spell. What they do on the other side is they have voodoo doctors that will help them use religion to get a hold of you as a victim.
Of course, it doesn't work because they all thought I was a woman. Not a great voodoo doctor because they didn't even figure that out.
Is that part of the scam of bringing a sense of religion into it, or is it something that they actually think is helping them?
They pay a lot of money to do that. There are a couple of videos online you can find on YouTube where they literally are casting spells on their own laptops with voodoo doctors and they do have to give money to get more money out of the victims. They give that to the voodoo doctors and get it in return.
The scammer is getting scammed.
Yeah, definitely. I would say so. But natural religions are really common still in that part of Africa, so I think it's just a mix of normal cultural events, technology, and all the jobs it can create, including the bad ones like criminal jobs.
Those guys aren't in a good place. One of the guys we caught, we manipulated for months. For over three months, we pretended to be the perfect victim, a lady. We couldn't entrap him into our technical trick, so one of the things we did was we had a fake banking app he needed to install. It was really in the app store. It was pretty legit. But he just wouldn't download it. If he downloaded it, we would have gotten a picture of him or at least the location. But he didn't do it, so the only thing we got was an IP grabber. We sent him a couple of links, so we found out where he was in general, just in Ghana.
He wasn't using a VPN.
No, none of them. They feel pretty safe because almost no one will go after them.
It's not like the government or law enforcement is going to do anything about it there.
Yeah. There is this task force called the EFCC, I believe. That's the only task force in Nigeria that's doing something about that. The task force started under the pressure of the G7, but in the end, the victims they make are all in the West or aren't in Africa, so why would police put a lot of effort and money into getting people that, in a way, even bring someone into their own economy? They get dollars and euros. That's a staple. It's established.
Was there anything in the process that really surprised you about how the organizations are run or their technical abilities?
The biggest breakthrough we got was the whole picking network thing. It seems like those groups' businesses are divided. You have people that do really intensive work. For instance, having 24/7 contact with their victims for the romance scam but also the whole business email compromise fraud. There are a lot of guys who do that as well. They just start with finding good victims and scanning them. In the case of romance scams, they ask a couple of questions.They all had the same story. They all were widows and they lost their wife due to breast cancer. -Anthony van der Meer Click To Tweet
They all had the same story. They all were widows and they lost their wife due to breast cancer. They all had one child and they always ask if you have children because that's a risk for them. Because if you have children, they can ask questions about the relationship. If you have children, they will immediately say you have to keep our relationship a secret because it's for my own safety. They'll ask what kind of house you have, if you have a mortgage, or if you rented a house, because it's also a good way to scan if you have income and how much.
After that, it'll just take a couple of weeks before they even start asking about money. The first couple of weeks are just there to make the connection as solid as possible. That's really intensive. They work 24/7 online.The first couple of weeks are just there to make the connection as solid as possible. That's really intensive. -Anthony van der Meer Click To Tweet
It seems like they work in groups. We are pretty sure they work in groups because they had one guy that was the voice. My girlfriend pretended to be a fake woman with my face. We called the guy once or twice, and then some other guy picked up. I definitely hear a difference in the voices.
They were off on Sunday. They didn't do anything on Sunday. It's a free day, I guess. Then, you could maybe get one or two messages for the rest of the time. All the other days, they were just asking you 24/7 what you were doing, if you were home already, and when you got home. They would ask how your day was. Just the normal relationship stuff. Some even wanted to have cybersex, so we sent photos where we made photos of my butt and painted nipples on it so that we could send something to them. That was intense.
They take a couple of weeks to establish a good connection, and then they want to have money. The way they get money is they go online and find a pickers network. Pickers are there to create the excuse and the front to receive the money. In return, they keep a percentage—I think 30%.They take a couple of weeks to establish a good connection, and then they want to have money. -Anthony van der Meer Click To Tweet
Those networks are pretty believable. They have good fronts and good websites that seem like real postal services or real diplomatic services. They always have a great excuse for why they need money. It could be because they want you to invest in something.
For instance, one of the guys said, “I have a lot of money back in America”—he pretended to be an American soldier—“but I can't get there right now because I'm in Afghanistan doing a secret mission. Could you contact the local business that's keeping my money so they can send it to you?”
Then, of course, you have to pay an amount to receive the full amount of money including administrative costs. They're the same kind of scams, but they had a goal center for that whole thing of good fake websites. The first banking account we got was from, I believe, Turkey.
We said, “Sorry, if you want the money quickly, we can only send it through a Dutch account,” because we were curious about what would happen. Then, they just sent us a new banking account from a Dutch company, actually. We got five or six banking accounts from that same picker network and they eventually said, “OK, it's taking too long. We'll send some guy to you to collect the money in cash.”
Then, we got calls from Belgium and France because there were a couple of people there. They were really willing to go to the Netherlands and drive 10 or 12 hours to collect the money in cash.
That starts to get scary when they say, “We'll come pick something up from you at your house.” Do you know if the people that were “coming to get the money” were mules, or were they actually part of the criminal organization?
I think one of them was part of a criminal organization. We actually found a couple of links to a Nigerian wanted criminal that just had a new banking account in Belgium, but he didn't want to go to pick it up. The first guy they tried to send, we tracked him down to a company in Belgium as well but a company that had a lot of debts. It seems like they could have just pressured him into doing whatever they wanted.
The second guy they sent was more cautious. In the end, we didn't get any cooperation from the local police and it was too dangerous to just arrest him ourselves because he probably had a knife or something because he didn't want to get robbed, of course. We didn't go that far into meeting him.
This was the guy that we scammed ourselves for three-and-a-half months that was not working for the pickers network. He was just having contact with us and waiting for the money. He was waiting for his money for over two months because every time he asked, “Did you send the money?” we had a new excuse just like he had an excuse every time he wanted money. We always said, “You have to install the app.” He noticed. We even pretended to be at the bank. I played as someone working at the bank. We had the whole sound setup so it sounded like we were in the local business.
We really pressured him into downloading the app. He downloaded it, but he didn't go far enough to get us to take pictures. In the end, we just bluffed. We said we already knew everything about him and he had one chance to tell us the truth. He was so exhausted—we played with him for such a long time—that he just broke. He started crying and confessed.
It was a guy who was 27 years old, my age at that time also. He dropped out of school because of COVID in Africa. Schools were closed. They didn't have any way to make money or an easy way to make money and some friends helped him set up this little side business. But it didn't work. None of the victims worked in the end, so we were his last hope and we were fake.
Even though he was using a picker network, he really, himself, was not a criminal organization. He was utilizing it, but he was not part of a larger ring of scammers.
Yeah, that's right. This kind of crime is surface. Even money laundering is a surface thing. I think it's a new trend that you also see here in the Netherlands because we have a lot of phishing networks here. All the little things and little components, for instance, buying potential victims' leads, renting out a phishing panel, or getting the money mules are all different businesses that you can just find on Telegram channels.
He did the same thing. He just found people online that could launder the money, but because we took such a long time, one of the pickers networks actually banned him from his account because they didn't get any return, so he was kind of lost.
In this case, it was an individual, but if you're dealing with a criminal organization, what kind of precautions did you guys take to not be a target of the criminal organization?
I'm not easy to find, but I did get death threats. The police called me right after a famous Dutch journalist was killed by a criminal organization. I was also getting threats, so the only thing I could do was make it hard for me to be found.
I think the threats are now gone, but that's the only thing you can really do. Or do not make the things you want to make because in the end, if someone wants to find me, I will be able to find me because I know how to do that, but I just figured, OK, the people that want to pay to get me killed probably don't really want to get me killed because I'm not that big of a risk to them. The people that were just frustrated that I did something like this will either DDoS me or try to find me but won't be able to find me. But it's always a gamble, I guess.
To me, I'm hearing more and more of that in the scam-baiting community of a lot of threats against journalists and these people along with doxing, swatting, and calling a fake hostage situation at your address and the police come storming in guns a-blazing, which is never a good scenario for anybody.
Nope. The security at our house or apartment is also OK. We at least can see them coming, but that's also when it's too late, of course.
Were there any surprises that came up through your research?
I think a couple of them. We made four episodes, one about Indian call centers. Those are things in the scam-baiting community, of course. I think what surprised me there was we got access to the systems of three different companies. They made over $15,000 each month per employee, per person. That they were making that much money was insane to me.
Some of them were pretty smart. There was this one company that actually got people to sign contracts. The contract stated that they were pretty happy with the service and that they were happy to pay the amount of money they paid. It would be difficult to get the money back from the credit card company because they could just give them the legit-signed contracts.
“Here's the person. Here's the contract. They said they were happy with the service. How could it possibly be fraudulent if we have proof that it was legitimate?”
Right. At the same time, they also had blank checks on their computers because they convinced all people to just scan in blank checks so they could add the numbers themselves. We even found traces of identity theft, making new loans, and Bitcoin addresses.They convinced all people to just scan in blank checks so they could add the numbers themselves. -Anthony van den Meer Click To Tweet
One of the guys was always googling the most expensive things, the most expensive car, literally, or the top five most expensive motorcycles. He was watching Netflix and a lot of Hindi movies during his work day. Of course, the Netflix account was paid for by a victim. It was, of course, someone else's name.
Those guys don't feel any pressure from their law enforcement because they were not even hiding. They were really, really hiding in plain sight.
I guess, technically, it's organized crime, but it's run as a business.
Exactly. We did one thing locally about phishing networks here. They would probably be operated from Russia or somewhere else, but we only found guys in the Netherlands that were just doing that as a new because we had a lockdown here during that time. In the Telegram channels, they were just telling each other, “Hey, the government says you have to stay at home and work from home, so I've got a new business opportunity for you. Just rent out our phishing panel.”
It was insane how many people actually did that. It rose gigantically. It's still a big problem because it's way harder to catch a phishing guy than just a street corner guy, but those guys were the same types. Right now, there's a big mix because in the end, they get money either way and it's all cash. If it's from dealing or phishing, in the end, it's just a stack of cash. They still need to launder that money, and now you see a little bit of a mix going on between the drug or cocaine world and the cybercrime world here. Where there's cocaine, there's a lot more violence and it's starting to mix as well in this case.
It gets scarier when the violence from the drug crime starts spilling into cybercrime.
Yeah. That's the moment when I got the call like, “Don't leave your home right now.”
I would take a little deeper talk about this. Was it the police who had intel indicating that you were a target or someone had threatened you so you knew that you were a target?
No, the police had intel because on one of the Telegram channels they just shared, the channel sold unregistered guns and bullets, and my photo came up a couple of times. It wasn't a direct threat as, “OK, we're going to do it tomorrow,” or something like that, but they were just fantasizing about it. It's pretty, pretty much enough for me to lay low for a little while.
It's pretty funny. I actually live in a part of the city where there are a lot of criminals. It's just the reality. This call happened and then I got home. I was working somewhere else. I was walking and trying to cross the street. I was in the middle of the street and then suddenly, a car stopped right in front of me. The windows went down. There were four shady-looking guys in there. One looked me straight in the eye and said, “Keep catching those thieves, right?” It's like, “Yeah, man.” He was just a fan, but that could have ended way differently.
That's got to get the adrenaline flowing.
It did. Yeah. Pretty happy it ended that way.
Let's change gears here. I know you have been involved in OSINT. You and I—before we started recording—were talking a little bit about Ukraine. In the US, we might get reasonable coverage of military things going on in Ukraine, but my understanding is there's a tremendous amount of cyber warfare going on. Can you tell us what's going on in Ukraine from that perspective?
Those are two different questions. I know something about the cyberwar going on as well, but maybe we can go into the research part and how we are covering it over here.
You must be familiar with Bellingcat.
Bellingcat is a news organization that's just based on open-source intelligence. For instance, the first big thing they uncovered was who was behind the Malaysian Airlines' attack, MH17, in Ukraine.
It's also a little bit what got me more turned out because that was a plane that departed from the Netherlands. A couple of people I knew were on board. I was shut down. We're such a small country that I think everyone knows someone that knows someone that was on the plane.
We kind of use their methods. What they do is they use a lot of geolocation, go into Telegram channels, Facebook groups, and VKontakte, the Russian Facebook, try to find images that people post themselves, and then verify if those images are real, where they were shot, and when they were shot. It's a lot about image verification.
It's a big part of the job because the organization I work for right now, I think it's the same as in America where people scream fake news all the time. If you make one mistake as a news organization, they will keep reminding you for 10 years, so they don't want to post anything that's not verified by us.
We go into the Telegram groups of, for instance, local towns, small towns, and villages. People there talk about their own houses that have been blown up, people that were laying on the street, dead soldiers, or anything, and we try to verify if those pictures are real.
We also go into military channels and see what's happening there and what people like to boast. Of course, it's all pretty hard to verify. Also, there's a lot of propaganda as well. At the start of the war, there was a lot of fake news there as well.
Ukrainians are pretty reliable in what they share or at least that we verified, but right now, the East front is doing a pretty good job at liberating their country again. That's partly because they didn't post anything about their military actions, which is, for us, a bad thing because everyone is eager for new images, new videos, new footage, and new news. But it's also a time when fake news can get injected because everyone's eager. That's pretty hard, but because of the media blackout—you can call it—it was also harder for the Russians to locate where the movements of the Ukrainians were heading towards.
We do that and also make news stories based on anything we can find out. If we can uncover a spy, we'll try to do that. If we have a long investigation about war crimes, we try to buy satellite imagery to figure out if things have changed in a short amount of time or if you can find vehicles on those images.
It's a big subject. There's a lot going on, but you can find out a lot without actually going to Ukraine. Of course, we also have people on the ground that can verify what we find out, but it's a great new tool for journalists to discredit fake news or verify news and also find new stories that are almost unique right now. I couldn't think of a war where it was possible until this war.
I found it very interesting that some of the news coverage—at least here from the US—has really changed to, “Oh, we've been able to talk about some of the verification methods rather than just saying here's the news story of something that happened in this village.” But saying, “We were able to confirm that yes, this building is in this town from old Google Maps.” All sorts of companies are providing satellite imagery. People are on the ground.
It's very interesting that there is a certain amount of distrust in just the picture by itself, but there are so many ways to verify it. You might not be able to verify the story, but you can at least verify, “Yes, this building was standing on this date. It was not standing on this date. It really was that building. Here's the satellite imagery before and after.”
Not all your sources are one particular government source that's like, “Here is all of our evidence,” but it's a whole bunch of disparate sources that all point to the same thing happening.
And everyone can check your work as well because what we do is we just put online the coordinates and how we got there, and then people can just verify our news. If you buy those images, you can see them for yourself, but sometimes, it's as easy as just going onto Google Street View and seeing the scenery being the exact same little details.
We even use shadow lengths to figure out at what time a video was shot. That's such a good detail for normal investigations as well.
There's so much more science involved in reverse engineering what happened and when it happened.
Yeah. It's not only metadata but also all the visual clues you can think of. Then, you can support that theory with evidence from people on the ground, like witnesses. Just normal journalism, but now it's a way stronger story than just some witnesses saying this happened. But those can be bought as well, of course.
Yeah. Eyewitnesses are sometimes the weakest and most unreliable data sources.
Yeah, so we can even cross reference those things. It's such a good opportunity for the whole journalistic community to start getting more OSINT specialists or gaining knowledge about it because it's such a valuable thing.
Do you see a future where educational institutions that are teaching journalism will start teaching more OSINT techniques in addition to just journalism and ethics around journalism?
Yeah. It's already happening here. You can also make completely new journalistic concepts based on OSINT or find new stories based on just checking images because sometimes when the government says something and you check it, if that isn't true or if that isn't really what happened, you can now figure out that that's not true.
It used to be that we just had to maybe discredit the source or say, OK, we're not sure if they're lying or not, but now we can just go back to them and say, “Hey, this doesn't match with our investigation. Explain yourself.”
We can hold people accountable. Not only governments but the people in general.
I guess it starts to make it easier to identify propaganda versus legitimate discussions of events.
Yeah, because everyone can verify it.
That's tremendous. How in the world do you find all the Telegram groups and these private groups that are talking about these things, whether it's cyber criminals or communities and places far away?
You have to get familiar with their terminology. You can do that by just having luck and finding one group, and then figuring out, “OK, this is their vocabulary. This is what the slang is.” And then go from there. That's what I normally do. Or just infiltrate for us and act like you're new and want to learn something. People are eager to help you because they want to make money out of you.
I guess if you're getting a 30% cut of someone's business, you're motivated to bring in more criminals into the gang.
Right. They're investing in you as a criminal at first. As an intelligence researcher, you can really use that to your advantage. I wouldn't suggest paying anyone, but you can at least start a conversation and try to get some information from social engineering. I think that's the basic step.
In Russia and Ukraine, Telegram is just one of the social media apps that's most commonly used so there already are a lot of groups. It's just a matter of finding the right words like the Ukrainian version of the name of a town, dropping that into Telegram, trying to find groups that are open, and just getting there. Maybe someone links to another group, and then you get a little further.
I think we're in about 300-500 groups right now. We can just type in a date or an event and then we'll probably find something about it to verify. Sometimes, it's fake, but that's also good because then you at least know that there isn't real footage.
Yeah, it's always good. As we wrap up here, where can people find out more about you and what you do?
I have a website. I think we best link that in the description because I always have to spell it. I'm on LinkedIn as well, so that's a good place. I don't really use Twitter. I only use that to collect information, so it wouldn't be of any use.
I think through my website. You can always email me, of course. My email address is on the website as well. On YouTube, just Find My Phone and Rats & Slaves are two of the documentaries that have been translated. We'll probably link those down as well.
Yeah. We'll definitely make sure to link those as well.
Anthony, thank you so much for coming on the Easy Prey Podcast today.
Thank you for having me.