Historically, counterfeit goods have been manufactured in China as long as genuine goods have been mass produced there. What you may not know is that, from an e-commerce standpoint, China’s tech sector has lagged behind the United States’ Silicon Valley region for almost a decade. In only recent months we have heard of Business-to-Consumer (B2C) Chinese websites such as Taobao, Weibo, AliExpress and Jingdong in the news on a regular basis. It wasn’t until recently that the Chinese counterfeiters found their way to sell directly to consumers here in the United States. Before then, the culture gap made it difficult for Chinese websites to sell directly to English-speaking consumers. This a spawned a mid-2000s explosion of US-based sellers purchasing goods from wholesalers in China and marketing to their own countrymen on e-commerce websites they’d create themselves. This primarily began on Business-to-Business (B2B) websites such as Alibaba, Tradekey, EC21 and the like. During this developing period, Chinese sourcing agents would act as middlemen to connect American sellers with factories overseas, leaving the American market to the American middleman. In the last few years there has been a drastic drop in the amount of counterfeit websites based in the United States. This is primarily because the next generation, also known as Millennials, made this method obsolete. Through the miracle of Kanye West, Weird Al and a string of Transformers movies, we have seen the once-regional culture gap disappear before our eyes.
The current global climate of e-commerce online is as close to one culture than mankind has ever seen. Now, children are connecting with one another, consummating transactions and finalizing payment while on their smartphones in the back of the bus on the way to school. This isn’t your father’s Internet. It’s your grandson’s. Deal with it. With the growing Chinese consumer population in the United States, it is more important than ever to monitor that activity. Did you know that Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba recently announced plans for a US-based data center to compete head-to-head with Amazon? We know how important it is to have investigators who know the web better than anyone else. We also know that it is important have an in-house investigator on hand who natively speaks, reads and writes the most popular Chinese dialects, both Mandarin and Cantonese. New in 2014, IPCybercrime took on a team member to address this concern. We now have an insured, licensed in-house investigator who holds a United States citizenship and is fluent in Chinese. This same investigator has been trained by our team in online forensics and maintains our in-house standard of evidence collection. Most recently we used this valuable resource to get the goods on one of the world’s largest websites on behalf of a major brand owner. We are always innovating to meet your needs. If you want to stay one step ahead of your problem on Chinese websites, don’t wait any longer. Contact us.
When someone goes about buying a car, there is a valuation model to follow. If a car is brand new, the value is set by the manufacturer, which allows for their margin plus a margin for the dealer. Once a vehicle is driven off of the lot the depreciation begins. That is, unless the vehicle’s value appreciates. Take, for example, the greatest car ever constructed, the Shelby Mustang GT500 of the late 1060s and early 1970s. When the 1971 model starred in the film classic Gone in 60 Seconds, it changed the world of movie car chases. The 2000 Nicholas Cage remake of Gone in 60 Seconds used a 1967 model of the same vehicle, and revitalized the world’s fascination with “Eleanor” (the code name given to the sumptuous steel vixen). That particular model was recently sold at auction for over one million dollars. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a fix-er-upper for $100,000. That’s a far cry from the original sticker price of $8,000 when it was sold right off of the assembly line.
This same story can be told about domain valuation. There are websites out there giving ‘valuations’ of domain names but, as well-meaning as they may be, only take into account simple factors such as keyword popularity, selling price of similar names and very little else. Domain valuation is never that simple. When we first receive a request from a client to inquire about the purchase of a domain we first investigate the owner. This allows us to take into account factors such as their initial intention, other uses, their tech savvy and even their financial bracket. Typically there are two kinds of domain owners out there. The first is the ‘domainer’, who valuates the domain using a cold formula then awaits a reasonable price and moves on to the next domain. No emotion is tied to the deal. It’s just a number. Then there’s the individual who purchased it with a vision in mind, went to the trouble to register the same name on other social networks and sees the name’s potential in a way that only a parent can with its own child. With the latter person, it doesn’t matter if the project is dead or alive; whether they are in need of funds or not. To them, the name is priceless.
This does not mean there isn’t a number that could greenlight this sale. It just means that the owner of the name values it in such a way that ‘they’ can’t put a price on it. There is always a price. It is our job to begin a negotiation that welcomes a dialogue. This means to get to know the individual and build rapport. It also means we need to come up with a starting price that does not turn them away. If I offered you $500 for Eleanor, you’d likely not return my call and, even more likely burn me for future contact. Our approach has shaved millions off of domain name selling prices. This doesn’t mean we’ll be able to buy you a domain for a fraction of its potential price. What we guarantee at IPCybercrime will provide honest, respectful treatment of both sides and the best possible outcome for you, the buyer.
Whenever a legal incident that begins online comes to notice there is a very small window to manage the collection and preservation of the data. If you’ve ever watched the popular A&E documentary television series entitled “The First 48“, you have been exposed to the importance placed into the actions that take place within first couple of days after the discovery of the crime. Just as in the physical world, a “CSI” team must be the first to step in to ‘freeze’ that moment in time for later analysis. No one else involved should touch anything until it has been preserved by their trained evidence collection team. Popular culture has conditioned us to accept this process in the physical world. Over the last decade, we have been introduced to the concept of computer forensics where a computer or smartphone may contain important data and must be preserved. But what happens when that case begins online? Online cases far outnumber both physical crimes and also crimes that start with a device that is in your custody. In these cases, the collection of data must be handled with much more care and finesse.
This is where Social Discovery comes in. The most common methods of preserving a moment of time online are: 1) Taking a screenshot using software like TechSmith’s Snagit, 2) printing to PDF, or 3) downloading the entire website using an offline browsing tool such as HTTrack. All of these methods are good, but they do not present data in a forensic fashion that can be scrutinized later by an expert. A screenshot can be taken of a doctored web page. The same can be done with a PDF printout. Files can be manipulated in an offline browser after download. In all of these cases the case is relying only on the testimony and the credibility of the individual who collected the data. There is no benchmark with which to measure his/her accuracy by an outside expert. Social Discovery, a very recent specialty introduced in the last couple of years, has made it possible for online acquisition of data to be held to the same standard as blood evidence and computer forensics. Let’s face it. More crimes are taking place in the cloud than known locations. This requires a tried process that has been tested in court. Social Discovery is a process that ensures all data is not only collected properly, but preserved with the proper forensic properties including a hash value that can be compared to the original. This will be the difference whether or not your online evidence stands the scrutiny of the opposing counsel’s expert.
At IPCybercrime, all of the common techniques are included in every service we provide. We also recommend that you request our additional Social Discovery service. For an additional fee, we can deliberately collect every tweet, Facebook post, Youtube video, or anything else that can be published online. Social Discovery also includes forensic collection of web-based emails such as GMail, Hotmail and Yahoo! (if credentials are provided by deponent). Whatever you do, make sure you have your bases covered. Social Discovery is the way to go.