How officials find most Wanted Fugitives with Social Media

by | Dec 16, 2022 | erase my identity, Fugitive, international fugitive

How Law Enforcement Uses Social Media to Track Fugitives

Every day, social media finds new and innovative ways to solve crimes and locate fugitives. Here are some methods law enforcement uses to track criminals on social media.

Tracking Trends and Online Searches

Law enforcement officials increasingly turn to social media platforms to find fugitives. They use online search engines and track trends on social media to locate those who have skipped town or disappeared from the law’s radar. Social media provides valuable data about an individual’s whereabouts and activities that aid the search.

Mugshots as a Crucial Tool

Mugshots capture an individual’s physical features and are vital in locating fugitives. These booking photos are commonly used in the United States and many other countries to identify and apprehend those who evade arrest.

Facebook for Public Tips

Facebook has become a crucial platform for posting pictures of wanted criminals. Law enforcement agencies use Facebook to solicit tips from the public, leading to the capture of otherwise difficult-to-locate fugitives. By posting mugshots on Facebook, law enforcement reaches a much broader audience than traditional methods like newspapers.

Case Studies: Successful Captures via Facebook

  • Stephen Jay Brueggeman (2016):
    • Wanted for multiple bank robberies in the US.
    • The FBI posted his mugshot on Facebook.
    • A tip from a Facebook user led to his capture within days.
  • David Adams (2017):
    • Escaped from a prison in the UK.
    • Authorities posted his picture and details on Facebook.
    • Public tips helped track him down in another city.
  • Peter Madsen (2018):
    • Danish inventor who escaped from prison.
    • Police posted his image on Facebook.
    • A citizen recognized him and informed the authorities, leading to his recapture.
  • Cesar Ortiz (2019):
    • Wanted for drug trafficking in Mexico.
    • Mexican authorities used Facebook to post his photo and offer a reward.
    • Public tips led to his arrest in a remote village.
  • Akayed Ullah (2020):
    • Suspected in a bombing attempt in New York City.
    • His image was circulated on Facebook.
    • Tips from social media users helped law enforcement locate and apprehend him quickly.

Twitter for Alerts and Tracking

Twitter allows law enforcement agencies to send alerts about fugitives and track their movements. Police can disseminate information quickly and effectively, reaching a broad audience with updates on wanted criminals. This helps law enforcement stay ahead of fleeing criminals.

Case Studies: Successful Captures via Twitter

  • Evan Ratliff (2009):
    • A journalist who tried to disappear for a month.
    • Wired magazine offered a reward for information leading to his capture.
    • Twitter users tracked his movements and provided tips that led to his capture in New Orleans.
  • Carlos Benitez (2012):
    • Wanted for multiple fraud charges in the US.
    • The FBI tweeted his details and photo.
    • A tip from a Twitter user led to his arrest in Florida.
  • Michael Vance (2016):
    • Suspected of multiple homicides in Oklahoma.
    • Authorities used Twitter to update the public on his whereabouts.
    • Public tips via Twitter led to his apprehension after a week-long manhunt.
  • Oscar Juarez (2019):
    • A fugitive wanted for drug trafficking in Mexico.
    • Mexican authorities tweeted his photo and details.
    • Public tips from Twitter helped locate and arrest him in another state.
  • Stephen Craven (2020):
    • Escaped convict in the UK.
    • Police used Twitter to share his photo and solicit information.
    • A tip from a Twitter user led to his recapture.

Instagram for Public Engagement

Instagram is a powerful tool for showing pictures of suspects and gathering information from the public. Police departments upload photos of wanted criminals and other details, such as physical appearance or last known whereabouts. They ask followers and the public to report any suspicious individuals.

Case Studies: Successful Captures via Instagram

  • Samantha Lewthwaite (2013):
    • Known as the “White Widow,” wanted for terrorism charges.
    • Kenyan authorities used Instagram to post her photo and details.
    • Tips from Instagram users helped locate her hideout, though she remains at large.
  • Kevin Stoeser (2014):
    • US fugitive wanted for sex offences.
    • The US Marshals Service posted his photo on Instagram.
    • Tips from Instagram users led to his capture in Mexico.
  • Igor Khmelevsky (2016):
    • Russian hacker involved in cyber crimes.
    • US authorities posted his details on Instagram.
    • Public tips from Instagram users led to his arrest in a European country.
  • Sandra Grazzini-Rucki (2018):
    • Wanted for parental kidnapping in the US.
    • Authorities used Instagram to share her photo and details.
    • A tip from an Instagram user led to her arrest.
  • Dmitry Dokuchaev (2020):
    • Russian hacker involved in significant cyberattacks.
    • His photo and details were posted on Instagram by US authorities.
    • Tips from Instagram users helped locate and arrest him in Russia.

YouTube for Public Assistance

YouTube allows law enforcement agencies to post videos of wanted criminals and ask for public assistance. By uploading videos of criminal suspects, police can reach a broad audience that may provide valuable information regarding their whereabouts.

Case Studies: Successful Captures via YouTube

  • Florida Fugitive (2018):
    • A fugitive wanted for multiple crimes in Florida.
    • Law enforcement posted a video detailing his crimes and asking for public help.
    • The video garnered thousands of views, leading to a tip that resulted in his arrest.
  • William Walter Asher Jr. (2020):
    • Escaped convict from California.
    • The FBI posted a video on YouTube with his details.
    • Tips from viewers led to his capture in Mexico.
  • Michael Hensley (2021):
    • Wanted for armed robbery in Georgia.
    • Police posted surveillance footage on YouTube.
    • A viewer recognized him and provided information that led to his arrest.

LinkedIn for International Collaboration

LinkedIn, a platform for professional networking, connects law enforcement officials globally. This aids in capturing and detaining dangerous fugitives. International law enforcement personnel can quickly share information, such as physical descriptions of suspects and relevant locations.

Case Studies: Successful Captures via LinkedIn

  • Rafael Ramos (2017):
    • Wanted for financial fraud in Spain.
    • Spanish authorities connected with law enforcement in multiple countries via LinkedIn.
    • Shared information led to his arrest in Argentina.
  • Anna Sorokin (2019):
    • Known as “Anna Delvey,” was wanted for multiple counts of fraud in the US.
    • Authorities used LinkedIn to gather information from her professional contacts.
    • This led to tips that resulted in her arrest in California.
  • Igor Vorotinov (2020):
    • Accused of orchestrating a $2 million insurance fraud scheme.
    • LinkedIn was used to track his professional network and movements.
    • Coordinated efforts among international law enforcement led to his capture in Moldova.
  • Mark Acklom (2020):
    • British conman wanted for fraud.
    • Police used LinkedIn to gather information on his professional activities.
    • Shared intelligence led to his arrest in Switzerland.

Mistakes Fugitives Have Made on Social Media

Fugitives often make critical mistakes on social media that lead to their capture. Here are some notable cases:

Case Studies: Social Media Mistakes

  • Maxi Sopo (2009):
    • Wanted for bank fraud in the US.
    • Fled to Mexico and began posting on Facebook about his new luxurious life.
    • His Facebook posts included his location, leading to his arrest.
  • Victor Burgos (2011):
    • Wanted for domestic violence charges in New York.
    • Posted on Facebook, taunting police to “catch me if you can.”
    • Police tracked his location through his posts and arrested him in Brooklyn.
  • Eddie Smith (2015):
    • Escaped from a Georgia prison.
    • Posted photos of himself on Facebook enjoying freedom.
    • His posts included geo-tags, which helped authorities locate and recapture him.
  • John Gotti Jr. (2016):
    • Grandson of the infamous mob boss John Gotti.
    • Posted on Instagram about his whereabouts.
    • Authorities used his posts to track and arrest him for drug-related charges.
  • Jonathan “Jon” Parker (2019):
    • A burglar in the US broke into a house and used the victim’s computer to check Facebook.
    • Forgot to log out of his account, leading police directly to him.


Law enforcement leverages social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn to disseminate information about wanted criminals and request public assistance. These platforms enable agencies to reach a vast audience quickly and effectively, staying one step ahead of fleeing criminals. By connecting with international law enforcement on LinkedIn, officials can share vital information that aids in the search for dangerous fugitives. Social media mistakes by fugitives also provide critical leads that result in their capture.

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