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Public Data in Criminal Justice Records

The primary resources are: People Search Websites: PSWs were discussed previously, they are a great first step when researching someone as they will identify where the persons lives now and past addresses. After you obtain this information look up the counties for each address and then you can search if the person was involved in […]

Professional License Data

A surprising number of jobs require some form of state certification or license, which can provide good information about that person. This can determine if the person actually has their claimed profession, some personal details, and very often it will show any issues the person has run into. So in some cases a person had […]

Someone’s Past Political Donations

There are several great tools for looking up an individual’s political donations. Aside from the insight one can gain by learning someone’s history of political donations, the records will also provide information about the donor such as where they work. National Politics The Federal Election Commission’s official database has a tool for looking up a […]

Are You Searching for a Dead Person?

There are specific osint sources and information that is only available for people that have passed away. Furthermore, standard sources for finding information on someone will often come up empty because your target is actually deceased. This is especially true with US-focused People-Searching Websites which often remove data on persons after their deaths. This post […]

Private Investigator Basics: Skip Tracing and Property Liens

What is skip-tracing? Skip-tracing is one of the central functions of private investigation. “Skip tracing is a process used to find a debtor who has relocated or disappeared to avoid legal responsibilities, such as debt payments. The skip-tracing process involves verifying a debtor’s information, searching public records and contacting people who know the debtor.” …according […]

Internet Archives

The Archives: There are three main archives for US-related purposes, (though there are several other initiatives around the world, see wiki page List of Archiving Initiatives.). – The Internet Archive / WAYBACKMACHINE is : the archive with more archived data does have keyword search does have a reverse image search via – BUT […]

Genealogy – Social Security Death Index

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is an official list of American’s whose deaths were reported to the Social Security Administration. The SSDI is available online (though only included deaths from 1965 to 2013) and can be accessed for free at,, and See the URLs below: The SSDI is […]

photo recognition tools

There have been many interesting developments in how we can analyze Internet-based photos using open source Geolocation Estimation – ( Leibniz Information Center ( has created an amazing tool for auto-estimating the location of a photo by analyzing features in the background, primarily focusing on geology and geography. It will take this photo for example: […]

Genealogy – How To Document People in RootsMagic Software

This is a run through for how to document one new person and one fact about them in the free version of the genealogy software RootsMagic. Short Version (without citing any sources) If you want to just start building your family tree without worrying about documentation, getting started is very easy. A.) Open RootsMagic, B.) […]

“People-Search Websites” (list of tools to search names, addresses, phones)

The following is a list of websites that can search for US-based people if you know the individuals name, phone number, or address: Search name, phone, or address – name, address, phone (NAP) – email, (NAP) – email, (NAP) – email, (NAP) – email, (NAP) – (NAP) – […]

Remove Your Personal Information from the Internet

There are several companies and websites that make use of your personal information but they are required to allow you to opt out. Here is a list of the places and relevant links for you to find where your information is collected and opt out so that it cannot be used by these companies. Data […]

What you can do with a “right-click”

You can often find good data from a website if you use a right-click. Here is a quick example, below is a screenshot of a people-searching website. The results from a name search show that the website knows the person’s Facebook account, but you may have to pay for this info. Instead, you can just […]

Find Information About Email Addresses in Data Breach Websites

When researching an email account, you can use Data Breach Websites to find a variety of information such as, but not limited to, websites where the email registered an account, alternate emails / phone numbers, coworkers, and social media accounts. This post explains what Data Breach Websites are and discusses several sites that are available […]

Identify a Company’s Employees, Use Recruiter Websites

This post explains how to find a company’s employees by using publicly available OSINT tools. A previous post explained how to find employees’ work email addresses for any company. That process simply required that you search for the company’s website domain in the tools,, and to look for email addresses that have […]

Protect Your Privacy

There are several companies and websites that make use of your personal information but they are required to allow you to opt out. Here is a list of the places and relevant links for you to find where your information is collected and opt out so that it cannot be used by these companies. Data […]

Find Local News From Far Away

(tools for company-specific news, googling from elsewhere in other languages, and searching most common search terms) When researching a company, local news stories are a great source of obscure information that likely will not be at the top of your search results when you google the company’s name. Company-Specific News IBM’s Watson News Explorer is […]

How to Research a U.S. Phone Number

This post (that is intended for educational purposes only) is about ways of investigating U.S. phone numbers by using different sources of information that are reliable but generally invisible to Google searches. Why Are U.S. Phone Numbers Special? U.S. phone numbers are unique, compared to other countries, because of the kinds of publicly available information […]

Genealogy – Find a Grave

Find A Grave ( is the world’s largest repository of grave site information. The site is free and easy to use. The site’s records are primarily from individuals uploading information. As a result, there may be different kinds of information available in different records. Furthermore, any search that you run in will also check […]

Genealogy Basics –

This post will identify free genealogy resources and how a beginner can use them. Over time, this post will grow to include additional resources with periodic updates. For now (November 11th, 2021) only one resource,, will be discussed. Future updates will include, but not be limited to: Find a Grave – ( Civil War […]

What You Can Learn From a Phone Number

This posts addresses some of the tools that have become available for obtaining information about a given phone number. The prevalence of app-based caller ID has made it possible to identify the owners of unlisted numbers and even identify how they are casually referred to by associates. WA Tools provide a resource that lets you […]

How to Search Pastebin Websites for Data Breaches

What are Pastes? According to, “Often when online services are compromised, the first signs of it appear on “paste” sites like Pastebin. Attackers frequently publish either samples or complete dumps of compromised data on these services. ” (click here for more information) What is Pastebin Specifically? According to a post on,: “Pastebin is a website that […]

What To Look For When Researching a Twitter Account

Here are some key features to look for while: Views on primary topics – First, look at the main topics they discuss and then click on one of the bubbles to find all the tweets on the topic. Read through a few tweets to get the account user’s view on the matter. So for example […]

List of Good Tools to Research a Twitter Account

Truth Nest TurthNest ( look under “Activity” and there’s an option for “Mentioned Users” that shows you which users the targeted account mentioned the most times. You can click on “view latest” under each account to look at the specific tweets of the targeted account mentioning this user. You can also click on the account […]

Python For OSINT: Instagram Account Lookup

This post will walkthrough running a Python scrip (Toutatis) in Gitpod that will find information on an Instagram account such as a partial email or phone number that is privately registered with the account. Once you have the partial email, you can make an educated guess about the full email and then search for it […]

Python for OSINT: Find if a Phone has an Instagram Account

This guide will walk through how to use Gitpod to run the Megadose/Ignorant script that checks if a phone number is registered to any Instagram account. Note that it will not identify the specific account. If you already have Gitpod and Github accounts, login to both and jump to step 3. Step 1 – (the […]

Find a Twitter Account’s Original Content and/or Most Common Words

This post addresses how to take a Twitter account and: a.) create a list of the tweets that were original content, not retweets b.) identify the topics most discussed in the last 4 thousand tweets c.) list the other Twitter accounts most often mentioned (and follow up to investigate them with Most investigators looking […]

Data Analysis for Beginners

This post explains how to conduct Data Analysis on large sets of data using Google Sheets and is intended for people with no background in the subject. The post will explain how to import data into Sheets and how to summarize, sort, filter, and modify the data by performing custom math on it. Finally, we […]

U.S. Politics and Nonprofit: a case study in corruption

First published on One of the most important but unnoticed changes in the field of investigative research in recent years is the growing role of nonprofits connected to politics and corporations. U.S. corporations are increasingly using charitable donations as a new form of political influence at a time of increasing scrutiny of the more […]

Python Scripts, Research Tools for Obtaining Data About Youtube Videos

If you are researching a youtube video there are also several research tools available online for obtaining more information about the video. This post will describe how to do more in-depth research of a video. The Research Tools This next part will address some of the tools that are available for researching videos online. What […]

What to Look for When Researching U.S. Corporations

This article provides an overview for conducting corporate research, identifying what information is available and how it is useful to a researcher. This post also weaves together previous articles and guides into a coherent whole. We will address where to find information on a company and what kinds of questions you can consider answering with […]

Use Python to Recognize Text, Compare Data From Scanned Documents

Background From Previous Post This post follows on the instruction from a previous article, Research Scanned Documents with Optical Character Recognition, that explained how to use Python to recognize text in png files with the use of Optical Character Recognition. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is basically the ability for a computer to recognize words in photos. […]

Research Scanned Documents with Optical Character Recognition

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) means that your computer can read words in photos and scanned documents. When you have a document or documents where you want to copy and paste the words into a search engine or you want to do a word search for a specific name in the document, OCR will make that […]

PACs, Foundations, Press Releases:

How to Research Corporate Efforts at Influence The Dirt Digger’s Guide identifies political contributions, nonprofit donations, and press releases as three key factors in a corporation’s ability to influence others. Corporations spend a lot of money on donations to political and charitable causes but instead of making direct payments they create PACs and foundations. PACs […]

How to Research U.S. Gov. Contracts : Part 3 – Contract and Tender Lookup

This article will show how to lookup a government contract in order to see what useful information about the contracting company is available. Brief recap of the path leading to this point: The Federal Contractor Misconduct Database identified in part 1 revealed that a company was cited for violations related to the death of a […]

How to Check If a Website Is Safe

There are several ways to check a website to see if it is dangerous. You can “scan” the website infrastructure for telltale signs of danger. Find if known malware refers back to the website or check the downloadable files on the site itself. Investigate website’s links or the SSL certificates for clues. There are also […]

How to Use APIs (explained from scratch)

This post explains APIs with Python but assumes no prior knowledge of either. Python Headers, Requests, Json, and APIs An API is a means for someone, or more specifically their Python script, to communicate directly with a website’s server to obtain information and/or manipulate data that might not otherwise be available. This avoids the difficulty […]

How to Research U.S. Gov. Contracts : Part 2 –

This article is a follow up to the post U.S. Government Contracts Case Study: Part 1 – Contractor Misconduct but it is NOT necessary to read it first. This part of the walkthrough involves researching a company in special databases for companies that contracted for the U.S. government. At this point we know the company […]

U.S. Government Contracts Case Study: Part 1 – Contractor Misconduct

When a company takes a contract with the U.S. government it requires making a lot of information public that is normally not the case with private sector contracts. This information is a great opportunity for any researcher interested in the company. This post will be the first in a series that provides a walkthrough for […]

How to Web Scrape Corporate Profiles with Python

Editor’s Note: this post presumes that the reader has at least a passing knowledge of the programming languages Python and HTML. If this does not apply to you, sorry, you may not enjoy reading this. Consider looking at the crash courses on Python and HTML at Python For Beginners and Beginners’ Guide to HTML. This […]

Corporate Research on Hidden Connections

Hidden, Obscure Connections There are several ways to find hidden or obscure information about a company. For starters, one can use, to search for information about the company. This database includes a variety of information sources, including registries leaked from tax havens and information from leaked documents from Offshore Leaks and similar sources. If […]

Researching a U.S. Company’s Website, Without Reading the Content

The purpose of this post is to identify ways of getting more information about a company by researching its website. This post will address how to find the identities of people that own or manage a company website, get more information about them, learn about changes that occurred in a company over time, and find […]

How to Research Corporations’ “Material” Disclosures and Violations

When you are investigating a company there are two good ways to look for incidents that are out of the ordinary. Specifically, you can look for documented incidents of violations or research the company’s 8-K forms. Violations There are a lot of databases listing incidents of companies’ violations, but it is much easier to use […]

Researching Shipping Companies

Part 1: Shipping Registrations Shipping companies can be one of the best kinds of companies to investigate on the Internet because they often include much more public information than regular companies. With any company, the best place to start is a quick google search of its name to find a website or press. If the […]

Researching on the Dark Net (the basics)

This post is a basic overview of different ways of researching items on the dark net. Specifically, this post addresses how to access the dark net and, once there, how to find what you are looking for. Because regular open net search engines like Google cannot search dark net websites, there are three categories of […]

Researching a U.S. Company’s Annual Statement

The most useful document for a researcher investigating a publicly traded company is the annual statement, also known as the 10-K. The annual statement includes a detailed overview of everything the company is doing, everywhere it operates or has significant property, and its risks such as conflicts with the S.E.C. and ongoing litigation. Background: a […]

Researching Influential Investors in U.S. Corporations: S.E.C. form 13 and def 14a

SOURCES OF INFLUENCE AND DISSENT WITHIN THE RANKS Stockholders are a source of considerable influence in a corporation and therefore it is useful for a researcher to identify the main investors. The corporation’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (S.E.C.) will identify the primary investors with the biggest holdings. Furthermore, S.E.C. filings also identify […]

Researching a U.S. Company’s Government Ties (the basics)

Previous Contracts with the Government If you need to find out whether a company has ever been contracted by the U.S. government, you can use and search on the company name to get a quick answer. This is a user-friendly database that will tell you specifically which part of the U.S. government was involved […]

Researching a Company

There are several publicly accessible “deep web” databases with records on U.S. companies. The records are especially interesting because, by nature of being deep web databases, one cannot find these records in these databases by simply googling for them. Furthermore, the records are usually verified, legitimate information, which is of course not always true of […]

Identify Someone’s Closest Associates on Twitter

This post originally debuted on If you are researching someone with a Twitter account, you can learn a lot about them–family, friends, jobs, location, personal politics and associations–if you quickly identify their closest friends or strongest relationships. The Tweet Topic Explorer, which is intended to find the main topics in the tweets of a […]

Hidden Email Addresses Linked to Domains

Almost every website has at least one hidden email address that is directly linked to the website owner. If a company owns the website, there will certainly be several hidden email addresses we can find. Whether you are investigating who is behind a shady website or you want to identify the people working for the […]

Researching Corporate Leadership Using DEF 14A

See this article originally debuted on This article addresses the useful information that can be discovered in a company’s “DEF 14A,” also known as a Definitive Proxy Statement. This form is basically issued in advance of an annual shareholders’ meeting in regard to matters that will be addressed at that meeting. These SEC filings […]

Researching a U.S. Nonprofit

Registration Records Nonprofit organizations register with the state government and this registration, similar to companies’ registrations, is most easily discovered by using Open Corporates. Alternatively one can find this information on the individual state government website. State databases for nonprofits are listed on Open Corporates’ list of registers. In a nonprofit’s registration record, one can […]

Scraping Deep Web Databases with Python

This article was originally posted on, click here to see. Editor’s Note: this post presumes that the reader has at least a passing knowledge of the programming languages Python and HTML. If this does not apply to you, sorry, you may not enjoy reading this. Consider looking at the crash courses on Python and […]

How to Find U.S. Court Records

Court records in the U.S. are often public available but they are divided up into a myriad of public databases. It is easiest to focus on whether the court hearing the case is federal, state, or county (even though courts are further divided beyond those levels). Terminology: A Case File refers to a file of […]

How to Research a U.S. Phone Number

This post (that is intended for educational purposes only) is about ways of investigating U.S. phone numbers by using different sources of information that are reliable but generally invisible to Google searches. Why Are U.S. Phone Numbers Special? U.S. phone numbers are unique, compared to other countries, because of the kinds of publicly available information […]

How to Investigate Someone’s Bitcoin

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin offer a unique opportunity for financial investigation. An amateur can easily research a given person’s bitcoin usage. The most basic framework of financial investigation consists of identifying a target, searching for negative information about them or their past, identifying the target’s associates and then searching for negative information on them. Bitcoin lends […]

Use Python to Display Data on Political Donations

Python can be used to quickly process a csv file full of data and display in a chart that will likely make more sense to the viewer. This post will show how you can obtain data about a company’s political donations and use Python to create a chart showing if there is a pattern based […]

Researching U.S. Property Records

Property records can be found in deep web databases that are located in the local county government websites in the “County Tax Assessor” section under the heading “Property Search.” This is true for the vast majority of U.S. counties. A quick way to find the database is to google the name of the county and […]

A Python Script to Find Someone’s Best Friends (on twitter)

For anyone with experience in Python, it is possible to automate the process from the post “Researching (easily) a Person’s Top Friends on Twitter” that I wrote for Below is a Python script, named TopContacts, that essentially does the same work and accomplishes the same goal, finding a Twitter user’s top contacts. The script […]

Find Email Addresses Linked to U.S. Phone Numbers

One issue that can arise when you are researching an individual living in the U.S. is the Phone-Email Divide. If you have a phone number, at least in the U.S., you can use various people-searching websites to find additional information like the name and address. Similarly, an email address can be used to find affiliated […]

Use Emulator to Research Someone’s TikTok Friends

One issue with TikTok is that you can only view an account’s followers and friends if you are using the app, which is problematic if you need or want to be using a web browser because it means you can’t view an account’s connections. This post will address how you can use a phone emulator […]

Tips for Researching TikTok

There are a few tricks that can help a researcher looking at a TikTok account. We can look up archived versions of a TikTok account and we kind find what kind of phone and what kind of social media account was used when signing up for TikTok. There is also a tool that helps to […]

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