Bounty Hunters and Technology

The Washington Post has an article about the skip tracers at Freedom Bail Bonds in Fairfax City.

Today’s bounty hunters use technology to track down bail jumpers.
1. Looking for hobbyist websites the target might be a member of.   No problem
2.   Sending target a message asking them to rate the woman on a fake website context.   The website is done to gather the source IP of the target.  No problem, but  I’m wondering why they couldn’t get a court order to identify the address associated with that IP.    That wasn’t addressed in the article.
3.   Pretending to be a hot girl to be friended to get access to the target’s Facebook profile.   A bit sleazy.   But still haven’t crossed the line.
4.   Access the target’s AOL account using the knowledge they had gained from the Facebook and Myspace profile to answer the security questions.   This is where I have a problem.   They read through the target’s email until they got enough information to identify his location.

I think the reporter buried the lead.   Who cares if bounty hunters are being Facebook stalkers.   Even with the musclebound meathead stereotype, it isn’t much of a man bites dog story.   What is interesting here is the boundary that has been pushed and perhaps exceeded.

If a normal person were to illegally access another persons email account they would be charged with a computer crime and possibly identity theft.   A bounty hunter is allowed to enter the fugitives private property without warrant to apprehend.   Does this access extend to a digital fishing expeditions?   The hope in accessing the email box is to find information on where he is, rather than to make an arrest.


  1. Reading their email seems a clear legal violation and is no different then what happened to Sarah Palin’s email account a few years ago.

    In my mind that is clearly over the line and should be prosecuted if not debt collectors and anyone else wanting to use it will soon pile on.

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