Updated: Dec 28, 2022
Welcome back, my aspiring OSINT investigators!
Very often in an investigation, we have a picture and we are trying to identify the subject. This might be a picture from a scammer on a dating site, a picture from a Facebook page, a picture sent via SMS, WhatsApp, Snapchat, TikTok or other chat medium or a picture captured from a surveillance camera. In every case, we need to identify the person in the picture.
In a previous tutorial here, I showed you how to use reverse image searches using some of the most popular web sites such as Tin Eye, Bing, Yandex and Google. These search engines are great for popular and well-known people and places but often fall short on more obscure faces. After being frustrated with these search engines, I found another that is far more effective at identifying faces, PimEyes.
PimEyes touts itself as a "facial recognition tool" and from my experience on hundreds of investigations, this tool is far better than the other generic reverse-image search engines. Pimeyes allows you to do 10 free searches per day but to do premium searches (click through to the websites where the picture was found, etc) they charge $29.95/month. In my opinion, it is well worth the price.
Let's take a look at PimEyes.
Step #1: Navigate to PimEyes.com
Let's begin by going to pimeyes.com. There we are greeted by a simple and easy to use GUI. All we need to do is upload a photo. Let's try uploading some pics. Let's begin with easy to identify pictures and then progress to more difficult and obscure pictures.
To begin, I uploaded a picture of Dylan Roof, the domestic terrorist responsible for killing 9 black people in a church in Charleston, SC. Any reverse image search should recognize him as his pictures are all over Internet.
As expected, PimEyes is able to find multiple instances of this picture and by clicking on the links we can identify the subject.
Next, let's try a picture that was part of an investigation I did in 2020. This picture was on dating site claiming to be an American soldier based in Turkey. He went by the name, Justin Fields. He effectively scammed a single mom (and others) out of thousands of dollars.
When we upload this photo to PimEyes, we see that this picture is all over the Internet including both heterosexual and gay dating sites.
When we click on one of the pictures, it takes us to site where this scammer was using this picture on a gay dating site...
and another identifies him as a scammer.
Our investigation identified him as a scammer from Nigeria using this gentlemen's picture to lure in both women and men and take their money.
This fellow, known around the Internet as Eric Blind, was responsible for scamming many, many women out of tens of thousands of dollars. In fact, he has an Instagram site with 70,000 followers where he photoshops himself in various locations around the world as he "travels" the globe. He has fooled thousands!
When we upload his picture we come back with 14 results including one from www.male-scammer.com.
If you are just checking to see whether the person you are chatting with is real or not, you can probably find what you need with the free plan. If you are an OSINT investigator, you will likely want to purchase the premium plan for $29.95/month. With this plan you do do 25 searches per day and also set up alerts if a picture appears on another site.
The generic search engines such as Google, Bing, Yandex and even Tin Eyes are good enough for reverse-image searches of well known face and places. When you are looking specifically for a face and an obscure face, PimEyes is the place to go!