Would you let your people trample a physical crime scene before allowing the CSI to properly preserve the evidence? Of course you wouldn’t. The Internet is no different. The success of the case has everything to do with the actions of the ‘first responder’. If a suspect is offering product, buy it. Here are a few reasons to do so:
1. You have a better chance of identifying the suspect. A purchase is interaction. Not just interaction, but the same interaction that was welcomed by the suspect. If you follow this entire process, you will acquire more evidence to be used when you need to identify him.
2. The merchandise is physical proof. Unless an investigator acquires the merchandise properly and stores it safely, there is no evidence that a crime ever took place.
3. In addition to having the goods in your hands, you can also authenticate the goods and be ready to explain to a judge how and why you believe they are contraband. This cannot properly be done by looking at a photograph online.
4. After the purchase, connecting websites becomes easier. Sometimes the payee is the only data that matches, sometimes it is the return address on the package, or the UPS account. None of these methods can be used without securing the buy.
5. Even if your initial position is to send a Cease and Desist letter, the subject often states he/she has never sold any goods. If you don’t have proof, you’re shooting blanks.
6. If a subject does not comply with your original demands, a later purchase is inevitable. Without that first purchase, your case does not have as great an impact.
7. You may only have one chance. The website may be down the next week or the suspect may change his online name. Without the buy, you may never know that the next site is actually a repeat offender.
8. You have something to hand to a judge. This cannot be overstated. In the world of virtual crimes, nothing is better than a good hard piece of evidence.
My company IPCybercrime has been specializing in making undercover buys for our corporate clients and law firms since the beginning of e-commerce. We have helped them win thousands of cases, both small and large. From my experience, this is a step that is often skipped but ends up being the most important. My advice is to leave your gambling in Atlantic City and out of the courtroom.