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Using Nairaland for OSINT Investigations.



If you are conducting investigations about Nigerian entities (either companies or individuals) a good online open source resource you should add to your list of tools is Nairaland. It's an online community created in 2005 and specifically targets Nigerians. Users register using an active email address, create a user profile and can start posting to different forums.


According to Wikipedia, "a maximum 3% of Nigerian Internet users are registered on Nairaland compared to Facebook's 11 million Nigerian users which correspond to approximately 20% of the Internet population.  Nairaland, however, does have a considerable number of unregistered users, as registration is only necessary for posting." These numbers make Nairaland a good treasure trove of information and since registration is only necessary for posting, you can use the search facility on Nairaland without having to register.

The search tab is right at the top of the site and very hard to miss. The search feature is not robust and can only handle basic searches. 

For example, you can't use Boolean operators and special queries to aid the search process. Also, you can't do a phrase search that returns all the words in that phrase in the exact order you typed them. Rather, what you can do is a single word search. If more than a word is used it returns all the posts that have the words searched for in them. For instance, if you are doing a two-word search, it will return all the posts that have both words contained in them but not in any particular order. Another thing to note is that it is not case sensitive, so whatever case you type the search term does not affect the results.

Luckily I was able to test out the search features when someone reached out to me to verify the legitimacy of a company called Dataville Group. The said company had put out an ad for interns. After the application process, the "successful" applicants received a mail stating they had to pay a token fee to handle some logistics before their internship could begin. Quite naturally alarm bells went off in my mind. The first stop was their domain, doing a Whois search I was able to find out who registered it.




Using the first term in the company name, I did a search on Nairaland and got 6 pages consisting of different posts, the earliest of which was on April 29, 2012, advertising for those who needed online research support by a company called Dataville Solutions.




Using the name I got from the whois search, I searched on Nairaland and found the same name associated with the Dataville solutions, suffice to say it's the same person and the same company, he just dropped the "solutions" for "group."




He even posted his CAC certificate of incorporation (who the heck does that?) probably in a bid to convince folks his business was legitimate. 





Another  thing I wanted to check out was the company address, looking at it on Google map showed it was in a residential area, and another Nairaland user pretty much confirmed it.











Using the info gotten and other OSINT resources I was able to find out more stuff and was able to advise the person who reached out to me. I hope from this brief exposé you can see how useful Nairaland can be for investigating Nigerian entities.

2 comments:

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