Automobile Forensics

Auto Blog

As you enter your car in the morning, the little “door ajar” light appears on the dash, this activity is now time/date stamped in the vehicle’s computers. The vehicle is started and your cell phone automatically syncs to the infotainment system downloading your call list, music, text messages, phonebook, and documenting that it is your phone syncing to the system by capturing the device ID. You plug in an iPod to listen to “Slim Whitman’s Greatest Hits” and the computer makes a note of the iPod, and your lack of taste in music. As you drive down the road, you stop at a red light next to a Starbucks, and the vehicle computer makes a record of the free Wi-Fi reaching out to your cell phone. When you pick up a colleague to carpool, once again data showing the passenger door ajar is now recorded. Your colleague has their cell phone’s Bluetooth enabled, so your infotainment system sees it, makes a note of it, and decides whether it should try and sync with the phone. It may even document the GPS location where the vehicle was when it recognized the Bluetooth, as well as where the vehicle was when your colleague gets out of the vehicle and the signal is lost.

What value would it be to know that the party making the stolen vehicle report, whose vehicle was found abandoned at the hit and run scene, had his/ her phone synced to the vehicle at the time of the accident? Or that three doors were opened indicating there were passengers, and their cell IDs were recorded as the devices reached out and tried to sync with the infotainment system? Need that GPS record showing the vehicle was at Slim Whitman’s Bar and Grill just before the event, or at the event? The drive-by shooters dump their cell phones in Lake Minnetonka? It might not be the end of the world, look to the vehicle’s Infotainment memory.

As vehicle technology increases, so will the amount of evidence available from the vehicle to help your case. Automobile forensics is in its infancy, but it is expected to expand just as quickly as the technology.

I remember in 1995 having a difficult time convincing LE agencies that they needed to start preparing for the flood of computer evidence that was on the horizon. Thirty years later, it is hard to imagine any case where important evidence cannot be gained from computers or cell phones. Before most of you will retire, there will be over 200 million vehicles that will have systems in place that may have data important for your investigation. The information is there, the technology to retrieve it is there, agencies just need to strategically prepare for it.

See something? Say something.

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires publicly traded companies to provide a confidential way for employees to report fraudulent and wrongful behavior. Although it is a requirement, we still recommended that all organizations implement some sort of anonymous hotline reporting for any wrongdoing.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners 2014 Report to the Nations states that tips were the most common detection method for organizations with and without hotlines, but the benefit was much more pronounced in organizations with them.

Tip Blog

Hotline Advantages

  • Reduce the possibility of inappropriate or illegal company actions
  • Confidential way for employees to present issues to management and lessens the potential for retaliation
  • Increase the likelihood of early detection
  • Allows for more information to be provided than other communication methods
  • Having adequate controls that seek out fraud, rather than relying on external or passive detection methods, can dramatically reduce the cost and duration of schemes


Fraud Facts

Fraud Facts

Eide Bailly’s Forensic Accounting team provides services in preventing, detecting and investigating fraudulent behavior and financial crimes. Our services include fraud detection and investigation, internal controls examinations, fraud awareness training, employee background checks and hotline reporting.