Rebuilding a deleted Skype history to paint the bigger picture

The client: Law enforcement agency

The challenge:

An individual was suspected of smuggling large quantities of garlic disguised as ginger (which is exempt from tax) into the UK, in order to avoid paying tax on it. CCL was asked to analyse the suspect's computers.

Overcoming the challenge:

CCL created forensically-sound exact copies of the hard drives on numerous computers belonging to the suspect and others suspected of being involved in the smuggling activity. CCL then processed the files using one of its review platforms, making them easily viewable for the officer in charge.

CCL securely hosted the data and provided support to the officers reviewing the data by assisting with keyword searches and identifying deleted areas that may contain potentially useful evidence. One of the keyword searches resulted in hits in the Skype history on a number of the hard drives. CCL was able to extract this data and recover all messages in the Skype history, including times, dates and user account details. It showed the suspect planning the entire smuggling process, even down to the temperatures at which the garlic should be stored. CCL was also able to retrieve the files that the suspect had sent as attachments to his messages.

On one of the exhibits the Skype history had been deleted. In order to recover this deleted data, CCL’s analyst was able to recover the file records which pointed towards the deleted data. CCL then rebuilt, extracted and presented this deleted data in order to build a bigger picture of how the suspects were planning and discussing the details of the case.

The result:

CCL was able to identify Skype records from the computers, which positively revealed that he was knowingly involved in a systematic tax evasion, through conversations arranging the deal with contacts in China.

When the Skype conversations were subsequently presented in court, the jury could relate to the evidence that was key to the entire case. He was convicted on one charge of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of duty payable on goods and was sentenced to be incarcerated for six years.