Process servers use social media to find their targets

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - We do it every day, and likely don't realize it -- leaving behind personal information on the Internet. You think you're doing it to keep friends and family updated, but others also are watching your every move, including those you may be trying to avoid. It has one man saying, "gotcha!"

Lee Griggs is not an investigator, but he spends hours investigating. "If I am right, he not only pulled down the photo he had the other day, but it looks like he may have pulled his site," said Griggs.

He's not a bounty hunter, but he does hunt people. Lee is a process server, delivering mostly debt collections and foreclosure notices. He also serves witness subpoenas, workers comp cases and divorce papers. "We get 'em served," said Griggs. "We go all the way."

We went along for the ride as the Kershaw County-based businessman travels all over the state to get the legal documents from his hands to the person being served. "You can hide," said Griggs. "You can lock the door. You can do everything you want. We will do whatever necessary to find him."

Lee's most effective tool to track those avoiding him is the world of social networking on the Internet. "If you watch them long enough, you'll know where they live, what they do, what their jobs are and who their friends are," said Griggs. "And you keep an eye on it."

At nearly 78 years of age, Lee has had to become very proficient in using Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and dozens upon dozens of other sites where people post personal information. "I'm going to Starbucks for coffee in a half an hour," said Griggs. "Uh, we're walking down the aisle at Walmart right now shopping. And they do this on Twitter."

Lee credits Facebook for solving one of his toughest cases. He was trying to track down a man in Lexington County. "When I went to the address, he was gone," said Griggs.

So Lee turned to the social networking sites. "Back to Facebook," he said. "He had started putting up pictures of friends. You look at friends. Where are they? Where are they located?"

He looked specifically at pictures, using an Internet app that reveals hidden details you probably unknowingly expose when putting pictures on your Facebook site taken from a smart phone where you've not disabled the GPS. "It will log a hidden code into the picture that provides the coordinates of where that picture was taken," said

And that provides Lee vital info. Eventually, he found the man in Texas.  And he has found countless others the same way.

Griggs has served people at their jobs, at weddings, funerals, in hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants, bars, even at motorcycle gang meetings. He says it's ironic anyone would try to avoid him to avoid getting their papers, yet they'll post so much of their private lives online publicly. 
Information anyone can see, including Lee, who says you can run for a while, but he will find you and will say, "gotcha."