Computer Forensics Expert Discusses Email Phishing Tactics


Forensic Computer ExpertThis case involves a woman who was charged with filing false tax returns and identity theft and claimed she was not guilty. The case was based on seized emails which the government claimed came from the woman’s personal email account. However, the government did not have IP addresses connected to the woman. In order to connect the woman to the emails, the government relied on “self-identifying” information within the emails. The woman argued that any “self-identifying” information was the work of phishing. She further alleged someone pretended to be her in an effort to gain her information and incriminate her. An expert in computer forensics was sought to educate the jury as to the methods of tracing emails and explain phishing, including the ways people can pretend or mislead with emails.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Can you explain your familiarity with the practice of phishing and how its used in the identity theft realm?
  • 2. With the lack of an IP address, is it possible to say with 100% certainty who an email came from?

Expert Witness Response E-124416

I have extensive fraud investigation experience, extensive testimony in the FBI and for 15 years after, including dismantling FBI expert testimony on email issues. Catfishing generally refers to creating an identity or using someone else’s identity to lure someone into a relationship. It is a form of identity theft. From the facts presented here, catfishing may not be an appropriate term, but I’d be happy to work with the attorney to develop the language that best fits with this case. In regards to the lack of an IP Address in this case, it is not possible to say with 100% certainty who an email came from.

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