Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wiretap and Bug Detection

In the business, we call it TSCM, which stands for Technical Surveillance CounterMeasures. To most people, it's simply wiretap and bug detection. By "bug," of course, I mean electronic eavesdropping, not insects. The bugs we look for are not cockroaches. If so, they'd be easy to find, especially here in New York.

There are numerous reasons why people want our services. A company many be hosting a conference in which confidential information will be shared. They want to be sure that no one has placed a listening device in the conference area to learn their trade secrets.

In one case, a big city mayor just assumed office after an election. Sherlock Investigations was hired to sweep his office, conference room, and limousine. He wanted to be sure his predecessor didn't leave any listening devices behind. He didn't, but when I saw wires attached to the battery with alligator clips, I at first thought they were power for a transmitter. It turned out that they were for the mayor's car siren.

In a recent case, a high-profile socialite had us sweep her office for bugs. None were located.

In another case, a woman found that her husband, whom she was divorcing, knew a lot about conversations she had on her cell phone. She thought her cell phone was tapped. While this is possible, it's improbable unless the FBI is spying on you.

It turned out that her husband had placed a cell phone bug in her SUV. It took me two hours to locate it, as it wasn't turned on at the time of the search. Finally, within the maplight above the rearview mirror, I located a tiny microphone attached to a postage-sized circuit board. Two wires were attached to the circuit board. One led to the battery. The other led to a cell phone hidden in the ceiling of the vehicle.

The husband would call the cell phone from various places in the U.S. and listen to his wife's side of the conversation as she talked in her vehicle. The hidden cell phone didn't ring, but turned on the sensitive microphone.

Of course, once I found the cell phone, all I had to do is look at the phone numbers that had called the phone. All of the numbers were the husband's.

Cell phone bugs are probably the most common type of bug now. A specially prepared cell phone can be left on a desk, taped under a conference table, placed in a plant, or under a car seat. The eavesdropper can call at will and listen to the conversation in the room or vehicle.

Of course, we can locate cell phone bugs, and other eavesdropping devices, including hidden cameras, whether they be wireless or wired.

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