Hey gang. After years of doing this, I have been implementing over the last several years methods to prevent hoaxing.
These are just some of the tools available to the researcher, that can mitigate hoaxing from the start.
- Web Submission Form: I have all sighting reports I investigate that come directly from the website, fill out a web submission form. This keeps track of the IP address it comes from. One of the best ones available is Email Me Forms, http://www.emailmeform.com/.
- Check the IP: Next always cross check your IP address to see if there’s a conflict in the data provided. An excellent source to track an IP address can be found at http://www.ip-adress.com/whois/.
- Always cross check the phone number: Does it come back to the person they are claiming to be. There are several resources on the web that will provide this information.
- Google search the email address: Sometimes it may reveal a Craigslist ad, EBay ad, or something that could point out something nefarious.
- If you have a hotline number: Make sure it only accepts certain types of phone number, my old hotline, denied Skype calls, Payphone calls and Private Number calls, in other words you need to show the real phone number if you are calling in.
A great resource.
This is just the information at the initiation of the case. Now we move into the second phase. The interviews.
- Ask the witness if you could record the telephone interview: Not for public consumption mind you, now you have something to compare to the original written account. If all passes move on to the next step.
- Ask the witness if you could record the face to face interview: Again not for public consumption. In both requests ask them casually, and the major reason for doing such, is not only to weed out the hoaxer but to verify, on record they are being truthful and credible. Perhaps even video their interview. It could be useful afterwards to review.
- Review all the interviews: Look for discrepancies, if there are none, you have one credible witness or a well polished hoaxer, so we get to move on to the next stage.
Now we move to the investigation phase, but its not all about getting to the woods yet. You’ve checked the IP, cross referenced the data, interviewed the person and everything checks out. What needs to be done next?
- Check the weather data: Is the weather data, or does the sighting report match up with what they have told you. Remember a well polished hoaxer may be able to keep their story straight, but they rarely look at the weather data for the day of the occurrence. Weather questions are some of the most important in determining the “stink” factor to a story.
- Check the drive times: Be sure if it’s a road side crossing case to ask them about what they were doing prior to the event, what time did they leave and where from. If they become defensive, let them understand the more detail, the better it is for verification and validation of their sighting. Be sure to measure the drive times yourself, don’t take their word for it.
- If there are other witnesses: First interview them separately, but if they are not present for the interview, see if you can obtain at the very least, their name, for at the very least verification that an event had happened. Reluctance in doing this, can be a warning sign.
- Ask for any secondary witnesses: They may not have seen anything, but the witness has told them their story, and can at least validate the “post incident” events.
A good resource of checking weather data
Of course if everything seems in line, you move on to the field research portion, but by now they have passed the “Sniff Test” and you at this point should feel comfortable with the witness.
I cannot stress in cases the importance of corroborative witnesses, either during the incident or post incident. See it’s easy for one person to be a hoaxer, but if all of a sudden, now your talking to a significant other, about the post incident, and they seem uncomfortable, squirmy, or unwilling, chances are something is amiss.
Here is a forensic interview chart, very simple in nature on purpose, I created:
One of the things, that needs mentioning is one of the important sign of guilt, and that would be the objective reason. Beware a witness who comes forth and states that, “I would never hoax anything like this, I have no reason to.”
That is an almost certain indicator of guilt. In Forensic Interviewing, we would handle these statement, after the evidence to the contrary has been collected, and reply to them, “Well under normal circumstances that would be true, but these aren’t normal circumstance going on around you…”
It is important to look at some of the reasons psychologically why they might have for pulling off a hoax.
- Are they recently divorced, or lost a significant other, best friend, etc. ?
- Do they live alone? If so, does their lifestyle, domicile seem out of order?
- Do they have material around their home that could indicate they have researched the alleged topic?
Many times, the motivation for the mass of submitted hoaxers, I have found is one of four reasons.
- The Jokester: They have the need to feel superior over someone.
- The Lonely: They have the need for attention.
- The Profiteer/Promoter: They are malicious and doing it for monetary reasons. From promoting hoaxes or creating their own.
- The Attention Seeker: They are doing such for the attention
Remember knowing is half the battle. In each case I handle, I try to rethink all of these items. Life handles us sometimes the hardest lessons. Learn from my mistakes and some of others.
Getting closer to our move to SEPIA Radio.
We’re getting closer to our premier date on SEPIA Radio so we look forward to seeing the familiar faces on the new network, as well as the addition of many, many new listeners to the Bigfoot world, and Squatchdetective Radio.
Till Next Time,