Typically, expert networks operate by consulting with, for example, people who work in the retail business who can tell them how much consumers are expected to buy next month.
But there's a darker side of the expert networks that operates by selling information that is more difficult to come by. The tactics described in the Big Lots lawsuitA are just like the ones described in Eamon Javers book about how "corporate spies" get their information.
At the same hearing where he confirmed the Obama administration’s assassination policy last week, the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, promised to report to Congress on the newly revealed CIA corporate espionage. So they’re taking these developed psychological techniques that they have from the CIA and employing those in the private sector. EAMON JAVERS: That’s right, and people with twenty, twenty-five years of interrogation experience inside the CIA are now taking that interrogation experience, flipping it into a corporate context, and selling it to Wall Street firms, hedge funds and other private-sector buyers. EAMON JAVERS: Yeah, what I found in the corporate espionage world, I mean, what you tend to find are retired CIA, British MI5, even some Russian KGB guys. And what they were doing was they were listening for these tells that they know from their psychological training are an indicator that somebody is avoiding the truth or hedging.
EAMON JAVERS: The executives from UTStarcom, and then also you get Wall Street analysts who are all listening in, you know, maybe hundreds of people listening in, trying to get a sense of, you know, how the company did, what its problems are, what its prospects are for the next quarter. And in this case, the BIA team was listening, and they found enough indicators that the UTStarcom executives were hedging, they were cautious, they were uncertain. EAMON JAVERS: Yeah, this was one of these things where, you know, when you get into corporate espionage, you think, well, this has got to be going on in these huge high-stakes, you know, multibillion-dollar dramatic things, you know, sort of swashbuckling CEOs and whatnot. The Mars people realized that anytime Nestle has a big hit, it takes market share away from Mars.
AMY GOODMAN: Is that a threat to children’s health, as well, if they swallow the toy?
Nestle, on the other — on the receiving end of this huge campaign, said, you know, “We have to do something here. And when the Mars executives went down to the eastern shore of Maryland to have a corporate retreat in a little sailing village at a hotel, the Secret Service veterans and the other corporate spies at this firm put them all under surveillance. EAMON JAVERS: Well, what amazed me in going through the history of this is, you know, I sort of think of corporate spying and government spying as totally different things. She doesn't have a boyfriend and except for a strong relationship with her mother, has only fake friends. We've gone through Javers' book and identified the 20 common tactics used in corporate espionage. Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month.
The CIA’s moonlighting is only one aspect of corporate spying that he documents in his new book, Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage. What I found out as I was doing the research for this book was that the CIA has a little-known policy in which they allow their active-duty operatives to moonlight in the private sector, to take on work on nights, weekends, when they’re on furlough, what have you. So what they do is they actually look at corporate earnings calls, and they watch CEOs when they’re appearing on CNBC and elsewhere, and they look for the telltale signs that the CEO is lying or misleading the public about the fortunes of the company, what their earnings might actually be.

They said, “Yes, this is our policy.” They said that in order to moonlight and work in the private sector, a CIA officer has to have approval from their boss. There’s a Russian firm in northern Virginia which is all ex-Soviet military intelligence guys who are now working in the private sector. So, anytime a company is being sold, he was telling me, the board of directors of one company will hire these firms to go out and put the board of directors of the other company under surveillance, so they know where they are physically, who they’re meeting with, who they’re talking to, where the board of directors is in the world, what cities they’re in, all of that during the whole process of the deal, so they can keep tabs on each other. A lot of these big financial executives were meeting in apartments that the companies had rented, you know, in Manhattan, to have face-to-face meetings to talk about whether they’re going to sell these firms. And the laser can pick up those vibrations, translate that back into audible speech, and record a conversation in a room from as much as a kilometer away. And during that call, the BIA, which is Business Intelligence Advisors, that’s the hedge fund consulting firm, had its staff listening into the conference call. In the psychological write-up that they did on this, they said, “We think this company has some kind of problem with its revenue recognition,” how it realizes its profits. What they were doing was they were wrapping little Disney figurines inside a plastic shell and then coating that plastic shell with chocolate. We have to figure out what’s happening to us.” They hired a PR firm, which in turn hired a spy firm, a firm that was located in Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC, that had been founded by a number of veterans of the US Secret Service.
They were going through the dumpsters at Mars headquarters to look for documents, to see what kind of data they might be able to pull. They sat at the dinner tables next to the Mars executives, listening to overhear their conversations. But when you look at the history, going back to the Pinkertons in the 1850s and ‘60s, on up through the twentieth century, corporate and government spying have really been flipped sides of the same coin for a long time.
Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage, Eamon Javers is the author. They have to go through a vetting process to make sure there’s no conflict of interest, there’s no danger to national security here. And what they’re doing is they’re doing all the same sort of tools and technologies and talents that they used in the government spying arena, they’re now using those in private spying, working for big law firms, corporations, financial firms.
Knowing a piece of information like that can be hugely valuable, because you know who is really in play, what’s really for sale, and you can get some sense of who’s talking to who.
In fact, most of the firms that are in this business, you know, sat down with me and talked to me about it and said, you know, “We go out of our way to make sure we’re following the law.
When they shift their bodyweight, their anchor points, as they call them, so if the person is resting his arm on the table, as I am now, and then he leans forward and rests another arm on the table, any shift of body anchor points they talk about as being one of the things that you look for as you’re looking for this indications of deception. They called him Deep Chocolate, who was a mysterious figure going around to nonprofits, liberal activist groups in Washington, consumer groups, trying to get them to sound the alarm that this was a dangerous product, dangerous for children. But very quickly, the history of corporate spying, while it has been going on in the past, with the level of technology today, talk about why this is such a danger today. The individual spies rotate in and out of both worlds fairly frequently, and have for a hundred years or more.
So I’ve gotten some pushback from some CIA veterans who said, “Well, this is just a policy for twenty-four-year-old CIA guys to go work at Home Depot on the weekend and pick up a little extra spending cash.” But we don’t know.

We hire the best lawyers in the business.” You know, it is legal to stand on a public street and record somebody. And on this call, they were listening to find evidence of what UTStarcom’s earnings were going to be in the next quarter. So they deployed their lobbyists in Washington, consultants around the country, and they were trying to do everything they could to shut down this new Nestle product, which was a threat to Mars. They were desperate to figure out the identity of this mysterious Deep Chocolate, who was going around causing them problems in Washington.
And the firms themselves work both for the government sometimes and for the private clients sometimes. It’s said to be viewed internally as a means to prevent agency defections to the private sector.
Until the CIA offers more details about this, as the Director of National Intelligence promised last week they would, you know, we won’t really have a sense of exactly where these CIA people are spending their time.
And it turns out, later, about three or four months later, they did have problems with revenue recognition.
They paid the janitorial staff at that hotel for the trash from the Mars executives’ hotel rooms and went through that, looking for documents, receipts, anything they could get that would tell them what this Mars effort was all about. So this can be a very effective technique in sort of pinning down what these executives are saying and where they’re leaving a little wiggle room that indicates that they’re really not certain. But few details have been revealed, including how long the policy has been in place and how many operatives have taken part.
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We speak to Eamon Javers, author of the new book Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy: The Secret World of Corporate Espionage.
All these things are just part and parcel of what they’re doing, but they’re using it to find corporate intelligence now, not using it for their governments. The CIA is under fire following the news it’s allowing active-duty operatives to work for private companies on the side.
The previously undisclosed “moonlighting” has granted wealthy private entities, such as financial firms, hedge funds, access to top-level intelligence officials. A CIA spokesperson said “moonlighting” operatives are required to submit detailed information on their outside employment.
But few details have been revealed, including how long the policy has been in place and how many operatives are taking part.

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