We mentioned for the first time Ben Strickland in our report on his report on SadaqaCoins, a dark web market aimed at crowdfunding for weapons and paramilitary training of Syrian jihadists. Strickland did not simply come across the site: he is an OSINT (open source intelligence) investigator who uses OSINT techniques to track cryptocurrency transactions and track connections between paramilitaries, extortionists and organized online criminals.
In June, Strickland published a Media post "Trace a Jihadi cell, kidnappers and scammers using the blockchain – an" open source survey ".
Strickland spoke to CCN about the open source data techniques he used in his investigations, describing open source data like anything from YouTube videos, blockchain data, satellite imagery or social media posts.
"I started by looking at a jihadist group that asked for donations from the public through the typical channels on which the groups generally operate (Telegram, Twitter) .While doing the same with human rights violations, I examined all the available data. It became clear that an address linked to their account was linked to a kidnapping in South Africa. "
He started searching on Google and Reddit regarding linked bitcoin addresses and found a comment on a scam Facebook account containing one of the addresses he had marked.
"I looked through the supposed Facebook account, it was photos of the boyfriend and his girlfriend from the UK, but he was collecting his bitcoins in the South African Rand, in other images he posted photos of handfuls of US dollars and statements on" how can I make you the next bitcoin millionaire. "
He later found many other Facebook accounts with a similar configuration that actually offered support and guidance on how to deceive their victims and praise each other's successes.
" Needless to say, my crap radar was exploding. Facebook accounts had images of their bitcoin addresses to show how much they had done. On the blockchain, those addresses were in the middle of everything. In the end I identified a former South African exchange that was connected to all of them. "
When questioned about the reasons for his work, Strickland cited the growing number of cases of cryptocracy, pointing out that on BitcoinWhosWho, a site aimed at identifying bitcoin addresses and reporting scams, there are 10-30 cases of sexual extortion reported daily He said that just as we have the ability to monitor the most widespread world of fiat-financed crime, it is important for people to be aware of the methods used to monitor crypto-criminality.