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Methodology Used by Forensic Examiners

The main role of forensic examiner is to provide scientific evaluations and provision of well-established scientific evidence required to assist in law enforcement in court cases and other investigations. In this paper, we consider some of digital forensic methodologies applied in Ross Ulbricht case. In this case, Ross was accused of creating a digital silk road where the court of law later sentenced him to life in prison. Criminal cases as well as civil cases need a forensic examination so as to access evidence in the scene of crime. In this case, the American Kingpin, Nick Bilton applied digital forensic to track down the Silk Road drug boss Ross Ulbricht. This was done across the web where Bilton applied forensic examination to recreate big chucks on Ross Ulbricht. In general, forensic examiners are required to visit crime scenes so as to gather data and information that would be applied as evidence in a court of law. (Nigrini, 2011). There are several methodologies applied in Ross Ulbricht Case that gathered evidence against him thereby making the court to sentence him to life in prison.

First, Nick Bilton, a journalist used verification as a methodology applied by forensic examiners to apprehend Ross Ulbricht who was popularly known as “Dread Pirate Roberts.” In this case, the examiner conducted a forensic investigation to respond to Ross Ulbricht Case where the suspect dominated as a notorious online black market black hat.  In this methodology, the expert verified that Ross Ulbricht left a trail of digital “breadcrumbs” in all places he visited. Thus was used to verify his identity when the incident of Silk Road took place. In that connection, the forensic examiner determined the scope and the breadth of the incident in the scene of crime (Nigrini, 2011).  The second methodology used in this case is called system description. In this case, the forensic examiner began with the process of collecting data about Ross Ulbricht. The examiner needed to know the trend used by Ross so as to launch as investigation. The examiner collected data from social media posts where Ross left a trail of digital. (Gee, 2014).

The next methodology applicable in forensic examination is called evidence acquisition.  This was used in this case to acquire all records of Ross Ulbricht in drug business. In this process, the forensic examiner identified Facebook photos and extensive chat logs which were easily tracked by Bilton and other forensic digital team. In this methodology, forensic examiners were able to prioritize data to avoid data loss because Ross Ulbricht would have destroyed the data in the social media (Gee, 2014). The next methodology involves timeline analysis. This process occurs after investigation where the examiner is required to analyze evidence in forensic lab. In this process, the team of forensic experts took the chat logs and a photo of Ross Ulbricht along with diary entries. The methodology ensured data was timely stored in forensic lab database system to track Ross Ulbricht.

Data recovery is also a methodology used by forensic examiners. There are some instances in which Ross Ulbricht distorted evidence in social media. The team of forensic experts had to cross-correlate the evidence from all sources so as to recover data lost. In this case, data recovery methodology was applicable to ensure retrieval of evidence from the crime scene where Ross Ulbricht was communicating in social media about the drug deal. The last methodology applicable in Ross Ulbricht Case is reporting results and presentation of evidence to relevant stakeholders (Gee, 2014). After Bilton and his digital forensic team obtained the photo, dairy entries and chat logs used by Ross Ulbricht in social media, they analyzed this evidence in their database. Later on, Ross Ulbricht was apprehended for having committed a crime in in cyber-related industry. This evidence was presented to law enforcers where Ross Ulbricht was convicted for illegally operating a silk road. He was convicted in 2015 and at the moment, Ross Ulbricht is serving a life sentence in New Yolk.


Gee, S. (2014). Fraud and fraud detection: A data analytics approach. Wiley.

Nigrini, M. (2011). Forensic analytics: Methods and techniques for forensic accounting investigation. Wiley.


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