How To Use Facebook To Fake An Alibi

by Klaus on November 19, 2009

in Facebook

jail_barsThis is a true story, folks!
Robert Bradford, a teenager from New York, can send his regards to Facebook for him not being sent to jail.

On October 17th he wrote a Facebook status update, from his father’s computer in Harlem, “Where’s my pancakes”.

The day later he was arrested, for a robbery commited around noon the day before, at the time of his recent Facebook status update.

The district attorney asked Facebook to verify the status update was really sent from the address of Robert Bradford father’s house – Facebook verified it.

More info on the Robert Bradford case over at NY Times.

But here’s the problem. Anybody with a certain degree of computer knowledge could easily have connected to a computer in a remote location, using a handheld device and added a similar status update to “prove” that they were home at the time of the robbery. Of course, if the police checks the log files, they might see that a remote connection was established.

If that’s the case, how about setting up a macro that will run on a pre-defined time of the day: login to Facebook, add the status message and then remove any trace of the macro after that? Problem solved.

I’m sorry to be the messenger of “how to get away with crime” like this, but it is so obvious, that people need to know how easy it can be faked – and thus be able to prevent it from happening.

My questions to you, clever reader, are as follows:

  1. What do you think of the Robert Bradford case? Is it okay that they let him go based on a status update like that?  (I assume he was in fact innocent, so eventually he would not have gone to jail for the crime, still.)
  2. How is it (technically?) possible to spot, or avoid, similar events in the future, but where the criminals in fact uses Facebook as a fake alibi, thanks to remote connections or a macro?

Share your thoughts it in the comments below, that comment might be what acquits you from suspected murder tomorrow, you’ll never know!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Eric | Eden Journal November 19, 2009 at 22:35

Seems like this could even be faked in a non-technical sense. Just have someone at your house log into your account and post a status. There must have been more to it than just the facebook status. They probably just honed in on that just to sensationalize the story.
.-= Eric | Eden Journal´s last blog ..Mish Mash Free for All – November 2009 Edition =-.

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Klaus @ TechPatio November 19, 2009 at 23:28

Hi Eric – thanks for stopping by and making a comment 🙂

Well, I must admit, my tech-freak-mind didn’t even thing in “non-tech” lines – but you’re absolutely right. I’m sure there must have been something else besides the Facebook status update, but then the story might not have had the same kind of news value all over the world… (Never the less, it seems the Facebook update did in fact have *something* to do with it).
.-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..iPhone Free Week: Introduction To A Week With HTC Tattoo (Android) =-.

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Extreme John November 20, 2009 at 21:06

Technology is one of those amazing things that we all get to witness, the sad part is if you don’t keep up with it… Your out.

The police and every other agency needs to continue to have the upper hand or things like this will become more and more common.
.-= Extreme John´s last blog ..Pictures of Girls in Limos =-.

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Kim Ramsey November 21, 2009 at 05:13

I’m not that techie, but I’ve seen a way to get similar IP with the use of a particular site. Actually, I don’t know how it works, but the fact that the site can provide that kind of information is something we should consider. With our technological advancements, nothing is impossible nowadays. It’s something that must alarm everybody.

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