ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE Are you bugged? (C) Copyright 1993 Michael E. Enlow ---------------------------------------------------------- DISCLAIMER This document was written by an expert, quite knowledgeable in the methods and techniques of good, successful investigation. The author has based this material solely upon his discoveries and experiences in the trade but is not an attorney. Thus no legal advice is offered herein. Be cautioned therefore, that this document neither asserts the legality of any of the methods described herein, nor does it advocate any usage of techniques without first seeking competent legal advice and adherence to the law. The author, editor, and service providers, unequivocally disclaim any responsibility for damages resulting from the use of any of the techniques or the consequences of implementing anything contained herein. This writing is provided strictly for informational purposes only. --------------------------------------------------------------- (This is an abstract from The Inside Secrets, a newsletter catering to detectives, attorneys, law enforcement officers and professionals around the world. Want to know how the pro's bug, tap phones, and use other things to hear what you're saying.) I'm now going to show you just how widespread illegal electronic surveillance, or bugging really is. But, let me begin by saying. . . MY INTENTION IS NOT TO SHOW YOU WAYS YOU MAY DO ILLEGAL ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE, BUT ONLY TO INFORM YOU OF HOW IT IS DONE, ON WHAT SCALE, AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS. I, THEREFORE, DISCLAIM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY FOR YOUR MISUSE OF ANY OF THE TECHNIQUES AND/OR CONCEPTS OUTLINED WITHIN THIS ISSUE AND FURTHER ISSUES OF THE INSIDE SECRETS NEWSLETTER. Do you get it? If you take it upon yourself to use the information I share with you and do something illegal, then you pay the price. I am warning you in advance. I am not an attorney and do not claim to be rendering legal advice. If you consider using any of the concepts I disclose, you should consult your attorney to insure they are legal in your jurisdiction. With that behind us, let's move on. Do you know there are only about three to four hundred court orders issued each year for electronic surveillance applications in the U.S.? Yet, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of electronic surveillance equipment suppliers. I wonder how they manage to stay in business? Well, my friend, I'll tell you. They make a lot of money selling electronic surveillance equipment. Their customers are Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, corporations, and a few private investigators, who often illegally use these devices in their investigations--but you'll never know it... A very popular book on electronic surveillance came out in 1967, and it listed some of the buyers of electronic surveillance gear. Everyone was quite surprised to find Avis Rent-A-Car, various hotel chains, Coca-Cola, several life insurance companies, and the like, were allegedly spending millions for specialized bugging devices. But to find out that Walt Disney was a major customer . . .? Hmmm.... In my career, I have discovered numerous illegal electronic surveillance applications. Bugs are everywhere; they're in small businesses, large corporations, people's homes, conventions, everywhere! In fact, if you don't believe me, you can hear for yourself. Use a programmable police scanner to scan the 35 to 50 megahertz bands. You'll almost always find some very strange transmissions. (Things mother wouldn't have wanted you to hear.) Let me tell you more about electronic surveillance. There are many ways of using electronics for surveillance, but first lets take a look at what's called hardwiring. Hardwiring is basically the same as having an everyday microphone plugged into a tape recorder. When you speak into the microphone, everything you say is sent through the microphone's wire and recorded onto a tape. Then, there are electronic transmitters which intercept the signal via microphone and transmit it as a radio signal to a receiver of some kind. (Sort of like a miniature radio station.) There are also more advanced long range listening devices like the laser mic, the shotgun microphone, the parabolic microphone, and others which can pick up a whisper for long ranges (sometimes even miles away). To elaborate on a few types of electronic surveillance applications and the ways to protect yourself from them, I'll expound and tell of a couple of case scenarios. First let's discuss. . . HARDWIRING As I said earlier, this type of electronic interception requires the use of wire to carry the sound to you or some other listening device. There are many ways hardwiring is done. Wires the size of a human hair can be used to transmit a signal from a microphone. They can be painted over, implanted under carpet, in an air condition duct, or behind baseboards, etc., to conceal them from view. At one end of the wire is the microphone, and on the other a tape recorder or even someone who is listening with a set of headphones. This method of electronic interception is the oldest in the industry, yet still practiced today. To make everything a little more complicated, there is also a conductive paint that closely resembles fingernail polish, which will transmit the minute electrical impulses from the microphone to a recorder or headphones. There are so many different hardwire applications that I will not attempt to cover them all. I will just emphasize a bit by sharing with you a couple we've discovered in our countermeasures work. Once, in checking a certain client's business for bugs, we located a very cleverly installed hard-wire system. Obviously someone had access to the office for a considerable length of time, or maybe did a little breaking and entering to get into the office. Anyway, this particular application was a small microphone element about a quarter inch in diameter (found at all Radio Shack stores) placed in a small hole in a picture frame. A hole drilled into the rear of the picture frame held the microphone in place. A small eighth inch hole continued through the frame to allow the sound waves to reach the microphone. A couple of fine wires running from the microphone to the wall were thumb tacked there. At this point, conductive paint, as described above, continued down the seams of the paneling walls to the baseboard. Behind the baseboard the conductive paint joined with an old set of unused telephone wires. A recorder was concealed in the basement near the phone box. Every sound made in our client's office was being taped using a long play tape recorder. Many times agents will change the play and record speed of tape recorders by alternating the internal components. This enables a standard tape recorder to record from 4 to 15 hours on one side of a tape. Let me tell you of another clever hardwire I discovered. We received a call from a lady who, believing that she was bugged, requested a "bug-sweep" of her home to detect any illegal electronic surveillance devices. After a very thorough sweep b y several of my agents, they found nothing. My agents told her there were no electronic surveillance devices on the premises. My men really did a thorough sweep and search. A few days later the lady called again and said she knew without a doubt that she was bugged. She insisted we must have missed something. This time I went to the location and ran every test we had equipment to run. Still--no bug. Then, I began the next countermeasures procedure, a physical inspection of the entire house from attic to basement. As I was searching, I noticed something very unusual. The stereo, situated in the center of the home, was on and the cassette deck was playing. Closer inspection showed that it was recording! However, there wasn't a microphone plugged into the microphone jack and it didn't have an internal microphone. I stopped the tape and played it back. There was a perfect recording of our client and myself as I was questioning her during my search. I checked the back of the stereo and there it was! I noticed one of the speaker wires was routed into the cabinet of the stereo. I disassembled the stereo and the wire was connected to the microphone jack on the inside and connected to a speaker. A SPEAKER WAS BEING USED TO CONDUCT MICROPHONE SIGNALS TO THE TAPE RECORDER! It worked like a charm! On top of this, the husband had changed the record/play speed of the recorder to accommodate eight hours of recording. This was one of the most sophisticated "home-made" jobs I had ever seen! Every night while the wife was working, as a nurse, h e was reviewing everything that happened at home the day before -- overhearing her telephone calls, and her visitors. I have to credit this guy, it was quite a design. ARE YOU BUGGED? My best advice on detecting any type of hard wire installation is to look for any alteration in the carpet where wiring may have been routed under the carpet. Watch for any unusual sets of wires near and around your telephone wiring. (You should always be familiar with the type and number of wires near your outside telephone connection box, and watch out for any new wires that may appear.) Keep notice of the baseboards around the floor and note any unusual scratches in the paint, or other indications that the base board has been removed. Be cautious of any metal objects that may be part of a conductor for electricity. This could b e part of a hot-wire for a bug. Let me illustrate this for you: As you can see, many types of metals carry current and can be used as a decoy for wiring. This type installation will out- wit most private detective countermeasure sweeps and searches, particularly in hard-wire systems. Another type of hard-wire system is a direct telephone tap. This only requires a standard tape recorder with both a microphone and remote control jack with an "auto recording control." These are about $25.00 and are available at any Radio Shack or other electronic supply store. The "auto recording control" is a small box about three inches square and has two wires coming out of it. It also has two switches on top of it to set it for record or playback mode. There is a gray wire which plugs directly into any extra telephone jack or it can be cut and spliced into the telephone line. The other wire, with two plugs, connects to the tape recorder. The small plug goes to the remote jack of the tape recorder and the other, larger plug, to the microphone jack on the recorder. One simply presses the record button on the recorder and you're all set. The auto recording control will keep the recorder inactive until the phone is in use. Once the phone is lifted from the cradle, the auto recorder control activates the recorder to clearly record both sides of the conversation. As soon as the phone is placed back on the hook, the recorder stops recording and waits for the next incoming or outgoing call. This feature prevents the tape recorder from playing constantly and allows for the recorder to only be active during calls. Most people who use this method of bugging will plug the auto recording control into an extra telephone jack in the home or business, and conceal the recorder underneath a bed or behind some other object to conceal it. However, in those cases where there are no extra jacks, they will cut the telephone jack wire coming out of the auto recording control and strip away the insulation from the red and green wires. Then, they will splice these colored wires into the phone wire. Nearly all phone systems operate on a single grey or white cable. Once the insulation is removed the cable contains a red, green, yellow, and black wire. This cable carries approximately 40 to 50 volts and will seldom shock if handled improperly, (unless of course, the phone rings which sends about 110 volts or so down the line) allowing for amateur surveillance applications. Once the insulation is stripped away, these two wires, the red and green, should be matched with the red and green in the telephone wire and then properly taped to insure no static will occur. In 99% of the applications we've found, we seldom find them with static, clicks, hums, or any other noise that would alert the subject of a bug. We have seen instances where people have used bubble gum to seal the wires once spliced. (The FEDS love finding fingerprints in bubble gum. It makes their job so easy...) Here's another tactic that has been used in phone tapping. We've seen cases where extensions of people's phones are installed at other locations where the tap can be easily accessible. Generally, the person doing the bugging will design a plan to get the phone company to have a new line with the same number installed (an extension) in a predetermined location, often under the guise of an "office extension." Then, they connect the recording device, and monitor calls for several weeks. Before the person being bugged receives their phone bill reflecting the added charge for the new phone line, the culprit is long gone. . . THE CORDLESS PHONE Cordless phones are in near every American home. Sure they are convenient to carry around with us, but they can easily transmit both side of your phone calls to anyone with a police scanner for up to a mile away! BEWARE OF DISCUSSING CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS ON CORDLESS PHONES! The box in which your cordless phone was purchased usually warns you that these phones are transmitters. Yet, every day millions of people, both at work and home, continue to use them, spreading their business through the airwaves. There is little you can do to stop people from hearing your calls, short of purchasing a scrambling device. Even then the party to whom you are talking would also have to have a matching descrambling device to understand you. This would so restrict the use of your cordless phone to the point that you may as well use a regular telephone. Cordless phones are easily intercepted. For your own security, I'll share how it is done. Again, I am not an attorney and highly recommend you consult with a competent attorney should you decide to use this technique for information gathering... It works like this. Nearly all cordless phones (with the exception of the new 900 megahertz phones) transmit in the 46.00 to 47.00 megahertz band. To intercept the cordless phone, the investigator will use the search feature on the scanner and program 46.00 as the low and 47.00 as the high and touch the search/scan key. If a cordless phone is in use in the area it will lock in on that frequency. He or she can, then, hear both sides of the conversation crystal clear for up to a mile. The use of a good low-band antenna with the scanner will increase the reception range of a cordless phone even further. Many private investigators will drive by a subject's home searching these frequencies, and obtain "inside information" that will provide leads that later help them to document evidence. It is arguable whether this is an invasion of privacy or a violation of federal law because of the notice on the carton in which this type telephone is purchased. It clearly states they are not private. Many investigators and attorneys argue that people waive their rights to the expectation of privacy when they use such a telephone. TO GO A STEP FURTHER. . . There is also a device called an "auto scanner recording control" which will allow a police scanner to be connected to a tape recorder. It activates the recorder to begin recording--only when the cordless phone is in use. Investigators will determine the exact frequency of the subject's phone, and then place a battery powered scanner with the scanner recorder control in a water-tight baggie or other container, conceal the equipment in hedges, culverts, etc., near the subject's home or office. Later he or she will retrieve the equipment along with the "juicy info" of the targets telephone conversations! And to go a step further, the investigator will often use a long-play recorder that will record hours of conversation. Surveillance companies and spy shops sell recorders that will record up to 10 hours of conversation on a single cassette tape. If you are a business man who often uses a tape recorder for business, this may be a real help to you. The concepts mentioned above are only the "tip of the iceberg" of what is happening in illegal electronic surveillance. I could write an entire book on just this topic. Since we have only so much space to write each month, I will have to continue this topic in future issues. However, if you have specific questions or comments, you may call my office or send a fax, and we will try to answer your questions. Please don't be so foolish as to believe, "It couldn't happen to you," or you may find a lot of your deals going sour. Perhaps, someone may even decide your secrets are worth more than your bank account.... BEWARE: IT IS HAPPENING MORE THAN YOU WOULD BELIEVE! I have turned down many multi-thousand dollar jobs to do industrial spying, and if I am getting these offers, so are many others. You can never be too careful. There are devices which will help you to detect illegal telephone taps, transmitters, and conventional hard-wire bugs, but the best protection is to follow a few rules: a. Never say anything on the phone you wouldn't want to say in a courtroom. b. Never trust anyone. If what you say could hurt you and your business, shut-up. c. If you must discuss very confidential business, create a loud background noise that will hinder the less expensive electronic devices, i.e., a radio or television with loud volume, a fan running in the same room, etc., and talk quietly. You would be amazed at how effective this background noise is against electronic invasion of your privacy. d. When discussing very delicate issues, never meet in anyone's office. Meet in public places and be sure to be observant of any bulges which could be concealed tape recorders, etc. Until next time. . . . Michael E. Enlow, Legal Investigator
Any comments or questions regarding this specific page?
Please feel free to sign our Guest Book
Please feel free to sign our Guest Book
To be contacted for a confidential consultation |
please E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
or send a letter via US Mail to: