Headline, September10, 2013

''' !!! SECRETS -secret- AGENTS !!! '''

For some of you, the days and period of charmed innocence may just about be over!  How sad!  How very sad!!  Gone are the days of Philip Marlowe and shifty, shady men in dirty and horrid macs.

The scene and this Tale setting is 90s and late 90s....
Brogan does not have a high opinion of the British Private Investigators. He estimates that six out of ten in London are crooked. In his experience, the evidence of their handiwork is scattered all over the boardrooms. He is regularly called on to sweep for hidden transmitters. Brogan has found
Bugs Hidden In Everything From Lift Shafts, To The Plug Of Coffee Percolator's in the Chairman's office.
Chris Brogan doesn't own a trench court, smoke untipped Camel cigarettes or carry a set of skeleton keys. Instead, he wears a pinstripe suit, carries a briefcase and compiles dossiers on surveillance subjects from the comfort of his office. In short, Brogan is a thoroughly modern private detective.

This morning he is sitting in the headquarters of his company, staring at a computer screen. To his right is a pile of mail containing instructions from solicitors, insurance companies, and a handful of exclusive private clients. On  his left the shelves are ranged with reference books and telephone directories. Today's case load is fairly typical : a request from the AA for a trace on a hit-and-run driver.

An  instruction from a firm of solicitors wishing to serve an injunction on a bankrupt clothing manufacturer, and a request for information on a ''mysterious'' businessman suspected by a perfume company of counterfeiting its lavatory freshener product.

By tapping into his computer, Brogan, whose prestigious clients include Guinness, British Airways and merchant bank Morgan Grenfell, will be halfway to solving these cases by lunchtime. It's simply a matter of knowing which Databases are likely to provide the answer. For Brogan is an expert at Data retrieval. His computers  -he is assisted by four full time operators- gives him access to nearly 900 Databases, containing information on everyone from company directors through to taxi drivers and scientists.

''People call me up expecting James Bond,'' says Brogan, who looks more C&A than CIA. ''They want me to tail a director, or bug his office. I say, ''Why should I go to all that trouble? Why don't I just feed his name into my computer? 

Brogan is by no means the only corporate detective with a passion for computers. Kroll Associates, the US-based financial detective agency whose London HQ is in MI5's old Curzon street offices, is said to make use of some 700 separate Datebases worldwide. Kroll's computerised sleuthing helped crack Saddam Hussein's arms procurement network and was used to trace monies which Imelda Marcos and the arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi are alleged to have siphoned from the Philippines treasury.

Similarly, Vincent Carratu, an anti-counterfeiting expert most famous for cracking an east-London gang who were faking a Channel perfume, maintains his own database listing over 100,000 counterfeiters, fraudsters and their associates, all cross-referenced into a groups, individuals, aliases and modi operandi. Based in Trafalgar Square, Carratu International has over seven branch offices worldwide. According to Vincent's son, who manages the agency's data system, the computer is now the first port of call in any new case.

Compared to these giants, Brogan may seem like a small fry. But what makes him unique is his willingness to talk openly about his methods. One journalist who first encountered Brogan at a conference of international investigators in Oxford in 1990,  -expected a group of men in well-worn macs swapping notes on the latest in telephone lens tech. Instead he was introduced to group of sober businessmen studiously notes on the latest developments in corporate fraud.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the rest of Brogan's profession  -which is why he is at pains to demonstrate that has own intelligence gathering methods are  ''above board''. Brogan boasts that by tapping into databases he can find out almost anything he needs to know about a surveillance target, even information that is supposedly restricted. It is simply a matter of applying basic sleuthing skills to information gleaned from one source and then cross indexing it with from another.

Besides Westcott and Chorus, Brogan regularly makes use of CNN Business Information, British Telecom's Phonechase, Nexis, and, its legal equivalent, Lexis, not to mention the on-line register of births, deaths and marriages. For information on non-British residents and companies, Brogan can also access U.S. databases or call on his contacts abroad, If, for instance, Brogan were to call a company and ask for a director's home telephone number, he would probably be told that it was not available. But he would probably be able to obtain it using Westcott or or one of the other credit Databases.

This unique post continues. I will try to cover the bare outline of the legal aspects of Data Protection or Consumer Credit Acts in the next one. So stay tuned.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Portugal. See Ya all on the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless : ''LifeLines''.

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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