Dumpster diving, is it worth it?
This is a basic article about a basic issue of trash and what we as persons and businesses throw out in the garbage or in the recycling bins. As a training exercise, this occasional author and full time financial investigator, sends new recruits out to sift trash. Most hate the idea, some even think it stupid. “Anybody who has anything, has a shredder.” WRONG. People who are sophisticated about protecting critical information have a shredder and even they slip up.
Recent field trips.
We picked up the trash bag, next to the ATM and the front door, at a credit union that handled municipal employees and teachers. At the end of the day we had the home address of 62 people. 11 were police officers, 2 city counsel members, 4 school principals and 14 senior city staff members the remainder were people who worked for the city and schools in many different jobs. We did target the credit union on pay day, but imagine if we took the garbage from this spot every day for a month. Working with county records, property, court and voting, we were able to assemble a full personal profile on the 31 significant people named above. This profile included, full name, spouse, children. property, d/o/b’s and SS#’s. The recent class of recruits now thought what we were able to do in 6 hours was – chilling. If we were ID thieves we had 31 prominent people to replicate including financial account information, if we had more evil intentions we had their, job, home and family information.
B. Case -ArtGalleryCompetitive Intelligence. A Gallery Owner, who specialized in western art, Remington, Cowboy Artists of America, Gorman, etc… had been losing clients to a new, for that part, unknown gallery. An investigator was hired to see if there was anything “sinister” about how this long established gallery was losing business to an upstart. Saving the reader from a long foray into the art world (Being an Art Dealer and a Gentlemen are Mutually Exclusive further duplicity in the art world is more like quintiplicty) the investigation shook out as follows. The client liked to doodle on a pad of note paper on call in leads for paintings, the doodle would then be transferred into the active client book and the doodle would be tossed in the garbage. The new gallery owner thought that these leads were so valuable that the risk of these leads being lost in the garbage was untenable. Hence, he hired a cleaning crew to clean the established gallery owners office and deliver the garbage to him. The new gallery owner just had the cleaning crew undercut the old cleaning crew by half and they had the job.
It was further learned, after speaking to some of the defecting clients that the new gallery owners was pleasant, solicitous of their needs and a please to work with were as the old gallery owner was a loquacious, cantankerous grump and a pain to work with.
C. Garbage of Service Providers. Arizona is a hot bed of new technology in both the medical and semiconductor industries. There are three copy / duplicating shops that deal with these industries and their specialty needs. A Chinese national was arrested for trespassing when has was found collecting the garbage from one of these printers. The charges we dropped because the trash bin was in a public area and the contents were considered discarded. It appears, according to federal law enforcement, that he was collecting high technology information such as chip blue prints and proposal fragments from the printers and shipping them back to China. It was a federal officer who called in complaint that got the man arrested. They were so frustrated with this fellow because he did seem to be breaking any laws, but none the less was acquiring significant amounts of information. Garbage is a significant source of information. You can disseminate information, collect information and uses the process to you advantage or disadvantage. You choose.