Danno Hanks (Private Investigator) gives expert video advice on: What is 'forensic identification'?; What is 'personal identification'?; What is 'product identification'? and more...
What is 'forensic identification'?
Forensics is any scientific method of looking into evidence. It can be blood, it can be chemicals, it can be fingerprints, but it can also be computer information. Say you are investigating a car crash, and you're doing a defense investigation for an insurance company, so you're gathering scientific information. You're looking at skid marks, tire tracks, paint scrapings. Almost all cars manufactured in the last ten years have a black box in them so you can download the driving patterns of the person who's driving the car and know if they were speeding prior to the accident. You might want to gather alcoholic information. There's all kinds of things, but it's basically, forensics is scientific gathering of the evidence.
What is 'personal identification'?
Personal identification are items that we have, which are called personal identifiers. The two basic ones that we use in the United States are our Social Security number and the exact date of birth. You want to know that the person using that Social Security number and that exact date of birth is actually the real person. Usually that's only done by fingerprints, but investigators don't have access to fingerprints. So they then take step B, and that is asking questions that only that real person would know. Where it's where you get into area's of mother's maiden name, and where did your aunt Tilly live when you were twelve? That sort of thing.
What is 'product identification'?
Product identification is done as a kind of investigation into counterfeiting. Most people when they think of the word counterfeiting they think of money, but you have people that counterfeit jewelry, handbags, clothing, DVD's - every possible thing that can be counterfeited is counterfeited. And the corporations that produce those items, the real items, will hire investigators to identify fraudulent or counterfeit products as compared to the true products, and then try to get the source of those products.
What other applications are used in forensic identification?
The applications of forensic identification or proprietary markings on products are done as a way of helping an investigator know whether, in fact, the product he is looking at is a counterfeit or it's real. And the particular markings are not known to the public. They are very private, they are top-secret to each corporation, and are only known to a very few people within the corporation and to the investigators. That's done so that you don't help a counterfeiter out in making that Gucci bag or that Louis Vuitton belt or whatever it is you're going to have. Or let's say you're getting a copy of Microsoft Windows. Well, it may just look identical to it, it might have all the security features, but it has all the known security features, including a hologram. It doesn't have the unknown ones that they imbed into the software that allows them to know whether your copy is real or not. And it's the same thing with clothing or even food. Now, people have counterfeited peanut butter, believe it or not.