The Business Of Spying

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Marc Barry is a hired gun in the world of corporate espionage.

"Business is warfare. It's just that simple. I'm being paid specifically to collect intelligence information that my clients cannot get themselves — either because they don't know how to do it or because they don't want to get caught doing it."

The co-author of the book "Spooked," Barry himself has spied on major companies like Quaker Oats and Kraft.

"I'm either working for you or I'm working against you," said Barry.

In the trade it's politely called "competitive intelligence." Motorola has it's own intelligence unit, run by an ex-CIA agent. Coca-Cola & Dow Chemical have units too.

The theft of trade secrets, like the formula for Coke, is illegal. But the gathering of information about your competitors isn't. And disgruntled employees can be a company's Achilles' heel, reports CBS News Correspondent Anthony Mason.

"I will usually go on something like a monster.com," admitted Barry.

On Internet job search sites, where people post resumes, Marc Barry can track down the current or former employees of a company he's targeting and investigate what they've been working on.

"It's usually just a matter of money," said Barry. When asked what kind of money he usually offers, he said, "It can be anywhere between five and ten thousand dollars. I've paid as much as $25,000."

If that fails, Barry has posed has a headhunter. Asked if he has an ethical problem with setting up a ruse, he replied, "I don't see any issue with using deception or subterfuge to dupe a client into giving up information that he should be keeping secret."

How far does he go?

"I can go right up to the line. I can dance on the line. I just have to make sure I don't cross the line. Because on the other side of the line is the FBI," he said.

This month, the FBI arrested two employees of Lucent Technologies, accusing them of stealing Lucent's trade secrets to sell to a Chinese telecom company.

In the battle against international economic espionage, the FBI says ground zero is a 60-mile stretch of California real estate called Silicon Valley

"This is a target-rich environment. Think of where we are — there are over 8,000 corporations," said Mark Fedarcyk of the FBI.

The FBI has opened a satellite office solely to investigate international economic espionage here, in a place where technology and employees are constantly turning over.

"It's the nature of the industry. Everyone wants to have that competitive advantage. And people do leave. And people often leave with information," said Fedarcyk.

"I've posed as a venture capitalist. I've posed as an investment banker," admitted Barry.

Marc Barry collects information for American companies. In business today, he claims intelligence is the name of the game

"And if you're not doing this, then it's being done against you. And if you sit on your hands, well then you'll get what you have coming to you,' wared Barry.

If business is war, you may need a spy on your side.


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  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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