It is doubtful if many corporate execs have ever ran into a spy but, beware, a spy may have already infiltrated their company and left without a trace.
William J. Klausman 1547 Words
12010 NE 49th Court
Vancouver, WA 98686
July 19, 2005
Corporate Spooks? Never Heard Of 'Em.
By William Klausman
You're not alone. In fact, it’s doubtful if many have. If, upon hearing the term, "Corporate Spook,” you picture a spy tiptoeing through a darkened office, armed with a tiny pen that shoots a deadly projectile into a counterspy extracting trade secrets from a computer, read on, because your image is not too different than that of William Klausman’s.
For nearly thirty years, Klausman has led double lives as a businessman and an undercover spy in the shadowy world of international corporate espionage.
He began his investigative career in the late sixties with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office in Portland, Oregon. He took a leave of absence to look over the Washington, D.C. intelligence community but, disillusioned, he returned to Portland to continue his career in finance, business ownership and, finally, as a corporate spy.
Most of his assignments are defensive. “When business clients are threatened by outside attack,” he explains, “I am hired to determine who, what, where, when and why and neutralize the attack. Subject matter includes theft of trade secrets, copyright infringement, embezzling, drug dealing, product diverting, and other activities. The list is long.”
On call around the clock, he could be entertaining in a target's night club one evening and on a plane to Washington, Frankfurt or Pusan the next.
“With appropriate identification, a bit of nerve and a whole lot of luck,” he says, “I’ve portrayed a computer programmer, accountant, chief financial officer, cartoonist, artist, writer, lecturer, master of ceremonies, advertising executive, cook's helper, warehouseman, entertainer, auditor, television newscaster, technician, race car driver, retailer, medical doctor, psychiatrist, attorney, bar tender and countless other job categories.” He is the true chameleon.
You won’t find Klausman in the Yellow Pages, but he can be reached through the corporate grapevine. He also receives some assignments through advertisements in bar directories, through an attorney and nationally renowned investigator who all maintain his secret identity.
Corporate Espionage is a term that describes the arena within which he sneaks, mostly undetected, within and around the secret boardrooms and information systems of the world’s major corporations, sometimes bumping against moles from different venues.
And his work is, most certainly, dangerous. Oh yes, the cloak-and-dagger syndrome is commonplace in the after-hours work environment, as is a clear and present danger of being caught, especially for Klausman, a counterespionage operative.
Specializing in sting operations, and on call round the clock, he entertains in a target's nightclub during the evening, and hours later he catches the red-eye to Washington, Frankfurt or several Asian cities. He infiltrates a clothing manufacturer’s business one day as an auditor to gain access to their books, and the next day as a janitor to find discarded documented proof in the trash. One moment he is a psychiatrist infiltrating a psychiatric hospital’s records to find proof of patient abuse and the next day, a narc operating a sting operation to trap a druggist as he knowingly fills false prescriptions. From transportation director to cook’s helper to television newscaster, he does them all and, as far as he knows, has only been caught once.
Say, for instance, a huge American manufacturer of athletic apparel learns that their men’s cross trainers are being sold in non-licensed retailers at a price less than their licensed retailers’ costs. Klausman infiltrates the small retailer as a Workers Comp auditor and, using their own system, discovers their source of the illegal shoes. With this data, he works his way to the transporter and finally to the Asian manufacturer who, as a licenses, manufacturers the shoes for Klausman’s client during the day. But, then he learns that on the other side of the clock, the so-called licensed manufacturer turns out the identical product line for someone else. Successfully, he infiltrates the “international network” and puts a stop to it, saving the apparel manufacturer tons of money and tons of grief.
In most cases, the intruder is an infiltration specialist, and enters the workplace in any one of any imaginable descriptions, for one reason, and will allow nothing to stand in his way—well almost nothing.
The fact that Klausman stops the attacker in his tracks, using whatever counterespionage measures necessary, is what renders him so valuable to his clients. And since Klausman’s identification is unknown to his clients, his clients may, at any time, disavow any knowledge that they have employed such a counterspy.
There are as many counterespionage measures available to him as he can create. Once he identifies the mole, and sizes him up, his approach is limited only by his imagination and, he adds, his sense of humor.
Sometimes, the direct approach to the mole is best. For instance, one assignment led him to a mole that had stolen a European client's copyrighted material, and published it on his own website.
Using a suitable pretext, Klausman met and convinced the mole that such behavior was not only unhealthy, but very consistent with that of the mole’s counterparts who were found floating in the East River.
Other times, his direct involvement in the process works better. This is when the fun begins. A client guaranteed a bank loan for a new business partner. Both signed a blank signature card and, based on the bank manager's promise to complete the card later, especially the insertion of the critical instructions, "two signatures required," Klausman’s client felt he had control over the bank account, as was his agreement with the bank and with the partner.
For whatever reason, though, the new card was never completed. The next day, when the crooked partner emptied the account with a one-signature check and left town, the bank came knocking on the door of Klausman’s client.
Klausman’s assignment was to make certain that his client's signature was on that card because, with it, the bank erred in allowing the funds to be withdrawn without the two signatures. How? Create another card? With fake ID saying he was the bank's internal auditor, Klausman infiltrated the bank’s computer system and located the only card on file—the old one. Stealthily, he entered the bank’s files, pulled the card, and forged a much-rehearsed signature of his client, inserting the words "two sigs required.”
In making his exit, though, he ran headlong into the bank manager and a FBI agent, both who raised serious questions about his authenticity. He must have dazzled them with his fancy footwork, because he walked away without being handcuffed. As for his client, the next he heard from them was a sincere apology and a forgiveness of the note.
“First I learn where my target hangs,” says Klausman. “And when I’m satisfied that I know his hot and cold buttons, I lay out my plan of a layered counterattack.”
One target, a British citizen, had pulled a scam on a major Korean manufacturer. Klausman learned where the Brit worked, infiltrated his company’s computer system, and learned all he needed. His research showed that the target keeps in shape by bicycling and, further, that he rides with a British cycle club, a hundred-plus member organization sponsored by several local bike stores. Klausman’s top layer being relatively easy, he makes friends with the owner of a sponsoring bike store who, over a period of weeks, introduces him to a friend of a friend of a friend of his target. By the time Klausman meets him for a day's ride, he is the target’s buddy. After a few beers and a game of one-upmanship, the target spills his guts while Klausman walks away with the proof that his client needs, including facts about the mole's unique business.
On still another caper involving big bucks, Klausman follows a target to a bar where he overhears him tell the owner that he has this idea for a great restaurant, but is short on cash. A day later, Klausman goes into the same bar and asks the owner if he might be willing to take on a silent partner. As suspected, the owner refers Klausman to the target. Within a few weeks, Klausman and his target become inseparable, as they view several restaurant sites and negotiate several leases. During this time, the target spills the beans into Klausman’s hidden recorder, proof their strong bind.
“To this day,” Klausman says, “he has no idea that I put an end to his multi-million dollar scheme against my client.”
According to Klausman, sometimes cases are resolved within a few weeks. Most often, though, they are not. His longest lasting one is still ongoing and has been for nearly twenty years. Actually a series of cases, his client is an international conglomerate whose information systems are under constant attack from outside sources searching for trade secrets, copyrights and other specifics. He sets up and continues to operate several internet sting operations using actual businesses as fronts. He maintains nearly a hundred different identities to monitor his targets’ activities.
“Once this assignments ends,” Klausman says, “it will make a doozy of a tale.”
American Book Publishing has published his first book, The Amacon Cover (ISBN: 1-58982-266-8). It is available through major book stores and all the on-line stores, such as PDBookstore and Amazon.com.