Hiya….I go by ‘Ginsberg5150’. I love the poetry of Allen Ginsberg and 5150 is…well…you figure that one out. I live in Kansas City.
I got started in OSINT through Debt Collections. I know, weird connection.
I used to be a collection agent. It was not the greatest job in the world. It kept food on the table and my family taken care of.
What it offered was a chance to learn about locating people using data points or Skip Tracing. I used a ton of different websites back then: Black Book Online, SSN verifier, Google, Yahoo and many others that I’m sure the IT department didn’t like me using. I had to ask for the certain site to become unblocked, so I could “do my damn job!”. It worked.
Searching for people let me scratch that OSINTcurious itch. I still love it. It consumed most of my work day and I almost lost my job. I was spending more time searching home phone numbers, cell phone numbers, address, boat registration, pilot’s licenses, newspapers, articles for the specific industry just to locate and contact professional that didn’t want to pay on their debt.
I used a lot of closed systems then. The company would buy licenses or pay per search. A detailed search could run up to $30 but they are real treasure troves of information. When the money dried up or some idiot got us suspended for looking up celebrity’s real address, I had to start looking in other areas for the same information. I knew the data had to come from somewhere. Also, I understood at an early age that information trafficking was big business and this stuff was resold repeatedly. It’s why I’m such a huge fan of using disinformation campaigns for personal protection. I got to learn from the slickest dirtbags out there. They would hide all their debts in their kid’s names and SSN. They would register their address as the local library. They are the ones that would use PO boxes and change of address forms to throw people off the scent. I’m not telling anyone to do any of this. There are way better ways now anyway.
I started using social media to hunt for more details. Companies loved this because the data was free. I would get information from social sites about the debtor, their family or the locations they were at. It was nice to see my target in real time. I would use City data and public records to leverage my stuff to get paid. I started to train others about what to look for.
I worked at many different collection agencies. I assisted in different skip tracing assignments for local and federal Law enforcement agencies. I helped Lawyers get more detail on people for abuse cases. I moved into Repossession. That is where I really started to use research to assist with my pickups. Using more public records searches, Google maps to plot out the locations and social media with puppet accounts to get in on the private conversations of people that I was trying to track I was able to make sure that everything was safe and professional.
I didn’t want to do that anymore. It’s a burn out job. I worked Collections for over 10 years and nothing good comes from it. I started working on the tech side of Fintech. I still play a customer-centric role but it more focused on risk. I feel that I have a long way to go and much more to learn, but also to teach. I’m always gonna stay OSINTcurious