Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Roving Bugs

The big news in the eavesdropping world is so-called "roving bugs." As a result, we've gotten calls from people who think that their cell phone is bugged. Before you call us, let me first tell you that your cell phone is very, very likely not bugged.

An article appearing in CNET News.com has generated all the buzz. Many bloggers picked up the story. Many of these bloggers subscribe to numerous conspiracies.

The article said, "The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations.

"The technique is called a "roving bug," and was approved by top U.S. Department of Justice officials for use against members of a New York organized crime family who were wary of conventional surveillance techniques such as tailing a suspect or wiretapping him.

"The FBI is apparently using a novel surveillance technique on alleged Mafioso: activating his cell phone's microphone and then just listening."

If you Google "roving bugs," you'll find the full story.

It's my opinion that a cell phone cannot be turned on remotely if the power is off. Even if it could, the microphone isn't sensitive enough to pick up conversation more than a few feet away anyway.

I think the story is really based on a judge's decision to allow roving phone taps. In other words, say the FBI gets permission to tap a mobster's phone. Well, he's not going to be in his home all the time. He travels. So, the newest thing in taps, is tapping every phone where the mobster might be, including payphones in his neighborhood. That's a roving tap, or roving bug.

In the CNET article, one TSCM expert (bug sweeper) whom I respect, affirmed the gist of the story. I still disagree with the article.

However, if you think that a program can be downloaded to your cell phone to turn it on and eavesdrop on you, there are several things you can do.

Pull the battery out. Get a prepaid cell phone. Put your cell phone in a clam shell-type glasses case (You'll still be able to hear it ring, but it will muffle the mic enough so that an eavesdropper won't hear a word.

But ask yourself, are you really important enough for the FBI to place a roving bug on your phone?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Background Check on YOU!

At Sherlock Investigations we commonly have clients ask us to check them out. They want a background check on themselves.

A recent client was applying for a Small Business Association loan. Before he sent in his application, he wanted to know of any adverse information that the SBA might find on him.

Frequently, we have clients send us their resume and ask us to check with their former employers to learn what they have to say about them. Often, the most that they'll answer is, "Is he/she eligible for rehire?" If the answer's "no," he or she has real problems. "Yes," of course, is a good sign

When inquiring past employers for a recent client, I heard "Interesting," when I mentioned his name. I knew that it was going to be all downhill from there.

Sometimes clients admit that they had a past criminal conviction, and wonder if it will show up on a background check. Generally, if it occured more than 7 years ago it won't, BUT, you never know.

It's best to be very honest on job applications and resumes, because if the company to which you're applying for a job hires a P.I. to do a background investigation, the chances are that your untruths will be exposed!