Detail from Ancient Greek black-figured dinos (wine-bowl) with the first chariot in the procession

Detail from Ancient Greek black-figured dinos (wine-bowl) with the first chariot in the procession
“Sophilos Dinos” (wine-bowl) showing guests arriving at the wedding of Thetis and Peleus. In the first car -Zeus and Hera, 2nd-Poseidon and Amphitrite. Source: British Museum (Wikicommons)

Monday, March 27, 2017

The C.I. and the target dance

On March 23, 2017 a Bloomberg Business Week feature brought to the spotlight the issue of confidential informants (C.Is.) in financial crimes, the handling of CIs by law enforcement personnel and in this case, agents being duped by an [alleged] criminal who "went rogue" and wiretapped his case agents in an effort to compromise them.

The case screams of idiocy in handling the CI, a guy who was hyping dubious stocks in a foreign jurisdiction (Bahamas). A main issue in developing informants: Is the CI vulnerable to recidivism ? A CI should never be allowed to fall back into criminal behavior while working undercover.

During that period, the agents were letting him suggest his own "targets". Sounds like agents dumb and dumber were on the However perverse it may sound, it is not unusual for agents to "fall in love" with a CI they established a close camaraderie report with. These agents even let the CI "make his own game", get his own targets [based on what, his nosebleeds] ? Finally the turncoat turned on them recording 100 calls, trying to prove they acted unethically and inconsistent. In the end they couldn't convict him because the statute of limitations had run out.

I'm not just showing the poor judgement on part of law enforcement who let a criminal run amok in this story.

How can you fast detect CIs - if you ever deal with one.

The CI and the target "dance"



  • Stress test the individual. CIs have two identities: they can only keep one of them up for so long.
  • The weakest link is the family. Family in distress or incommunicado could mean somebody has turned into a turncoat.
  • Breaking the prearranged meeting sites (diner, coffee house) where the environment allows for easy surveillance by their handlers.
  • If the target disappears for a month or two, what will the CI do ? Retreat or pursue ?
  • Emphasis is placed on wires CIs wear recordings that can be used as evidence. These wearables, while being inconspicuous, button/lapel size are RF transmitters. You can buy a signal bug detector (like these) to detect if the CI is wearing a wire.
  • Of course, a phone -any phone- can be bugged and also used as a recording device. People need just two to three minutes with that phone. 


If the CI is a long known co-worker or employee how do you tell they've turned ? Kevin Mitnick looks at defendants docket "traffic"analysis.




This is more art than science, but it boils down to inconsistency to established behavior, altered habits, long hours at the office -longer than usual, maybe selling or disposition of property -real estate, family heirlooms, etc.

1 comment :

  1. Who's tapping YOU ?

    From "Taping Aided Probe of AmTrust": "The auditor at BDO USA LLP casually wondered around the acoounting firm's New York offices, striking up conversations with colleagues about BDO's audit of AMTrust. Unknown to the colleagues, the auditor was carrying a tiny recording device disguised as an ordinary Starbucks gift card, capturing every word...https://www.wsj.com/articles/secret-recordings-play-role-in-sec-probe-of-insurer-amtrust-1491903011

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