Friday, May 31, 2024

My Crime Beat Column: My Full Q&A With Nicholas Shakespeare, The Author Of The New Biography Of The Late, Great Thriller Writer Ian Fleming

In my previous post, I offered my Washington Times On Crime column on Nicholas Shakespeare, the author of the new biography of the late, great thriller writer Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond.  

You can read the post via the below link:

Paul Davis On Crime: Ian Fleming: The Complete Man: My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On Nicholas Shakespeare, The Author Of The New Biography Of The Creator Of James Bond

You can also read my full Q&A with Nicholas Shakespeare below:  

Davis: Why did you write the biography, and why did you call the biography Ian Fleming: The Complete man? 

Shakespeare: I'm a novelist before I’m a biographer. One of Granta’s 1993 Best of Young British Novelists – with The Dancer Upstairs chosen by the American Libraries Association as the Best Novel of 1995 (it was afterwards filmed by John Malkovich in the only movie he’s directed, starring Javier Bardem). 

That’s why when approached to write a new authorized biography of Ian Fleming, the first since 1966, my initial reaction was hesitation. Could I face spending so long in the company of a melancholic cad and creator of the cold killing machine, James Bond? This incomplete image was my only image of Fleming. 

Before rejecting the proposal, I did some background research, and in the course of this due diligence, as it were, I made two important discoveries.       

First, I found to my surprise that Fleming, the sardonic bounder, was kinder than I'd hitherto imagined. Again and again, the women he'd had affairs with – There must be enough of them to fill the Albert Hall, Rebecca West wrote – looked back on him with fondness, describing his kindliness as his chief characteristic. This was not a quality I'd associated with James Bond.      

Kinder, but also a great deal more significant than his popular caricature. His many jealous critics had inferred that in WW2 he was merely in charge of in-trays, out-trays and ashtrays at the Admiralty, where he served as the personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, Admiral John Godfrey. In fact, IF was in the inner citadel of British Intelligence, one of only 30 people cleared to know the top wartime secrets of Bletchley Park, and one of only a handful of trusted insiders who helped set up America's first foreign intelligence organization with Colonel William Donovan, in the spring and summer of 1941; in 1947, this became the CIA. 

When Churchill (who wrote the obituary of Fleming's father Val, killed in 1917 when Fleming was 8) talked in 1946 about a special relationship, he was talking about what was first and foremost an intelligence relationship. Few had done more to make it so special than Ian Fleming, who was regarded by Admiral Godfrey as a war-winner, although IF couldn’t for security reasons talk about this, let alone boast about it. 

Oh, and Fleming wasn't just responsible for Bond: he also came up with the idea for The Man from U. N.C.L.E (he later sold the idea to MGM for £1) and for the character of Charlie in Charlie's Angels. 

Not that he was an unprickly or an easy subject to dig up. Early on, Charles de Mestral, the son of his Swiss fiancŽe Monique, sent me an envelope containing the original photos that his mother had taken of Ian in the early 1930s when they were engaged, and which she had preserved in a sort of shrine all her life. I propped up the largest on my desk, I suppose as some sort of talisman; a b & w studio portrait of him circa 1931. For four years, he stared impenetrably at me, defying my attempts to crack him. Only towards the end did I glance across and at once see IF through the veil of his cigarette smoke and have a sense that I understood him better – and more than that, quite liked him. 

It was the opposite trajectory of my experience in writing about Bruce Chatwin, someone I had known personally and admired, but whom (because of the unnatural, up-close nature of biography) I ended up becoming less enamored about. 

As for the title, this is partly an ironic nod to his somewhat extravagant wish in the 1930s, declared several times to his friend Mary Pakenham, to be a Renaissance man, the Complete Man. I then read Alan Moorehead’s account of how WW2 had transformed “the ordinary man” – and how “he was, for a moment of time, a complete man, and he had this sublimity in him.” This certainly was true of Fleming: the war was the making of him (and later of Bond).

Only after my book went to press did John le Carré’s biographer Adam Sisman alert me to this other quote, in Raymond Chandler’s essay The Simple Art of Murder: “But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man.”

What I like about the phrase complete man is that it suggests one of the central themes to have emerged: there is much more to Fleming than Bond, a character he created almost as an afterthought in the last twelve years of his life, when the most interesting part of it was essentially over. To simplify horribly, there would be no James Bond had Fleming not led the life he did, but if Bond had not existed, Fleming is someone we should still want to know about.

Davis: How does your biography differ from earlier biographies? What sources and material did you have that the earlier biographies did not? 

Shakespeare: The Fleming Estate had promised access to family papers – mainly photographs and childhood letters – that had not been seen before; in order to guarantee artistic integrity, it would be up to me to find a publisher. I like to think that this new material allowed for a slightly more three-dimensional portrait of his background and upbringing – although I must stress that in most areas of his life, I felt I was merely adding to the portrait of Fleming which John Pearson (1966) and Andrew Lycett (1995) in particular had been successful in establishing. I couldn’t have written my biography without the sizeable assistance of their books. I should also add that I agreed to do it only on condition that I had total editorial control, as with my Chatwin biography. It would serve no one – not Fleming, not his Estate, not my publishers, not me – if there was the tiniest whiff that authorized also meant controlled. 

What possibly separated me from John Pearson and Andrew Lycett is that I’m a novelist before I’m a biographer. History is about storytelling if it’s about anything. The novelist’s arsenal is useful in this respect. 

I drew on fiction-writing not to invent anything, but to help structure the material, to keep the reader engaged on their toes, suspended, as well as to pry with unusual nosiness into character and motive. The structure of Ian Fleming: the Complete Man largely presented itself – save for the opening, which took many rewrites. I knew immediately that I wanted to begin with Fleming’s funeral in 1964, how it had to recommence all over again – this seemed a suitable illustration of what I was trying to persuade the reader to do, i.e. re-examine Fleming, a person we think we know (perhaps rather too well), from the start. 

I also experimented with the 1960 Kennedy dinner party as a possible opening. But that presented rather too many beginnings, so I returned the dinner to its chronological sequence. The only other subversion of order was the chapter when the Old Harrovian ornithologist James Bond visits Goldeneye in February 1964, near the end of Fleming’s life. I felt that this encounter wouldn’t work in strict chronological order, when it would risk reheating a lot of old cabbage; but to put it directly after Fleming writes Casino Royale might inject his own story with a fresh and unexpected flip. Plus, it allowed me to give an overview of the work: the idea first brilliantly mooted by Philip Larkin that each novel was a piece of stolen bullion from WW2. 

One other influence (of the suppressed novelist’s instinct) can be detected in the story of Evelyn Waugh performing the word bondsman at a family charade shortly after Fleming’s funeral. I was told this years ago by the Waugh family when I made a three-part documentary on Evelyn Waugh for Arena. It seemed a perfect encapsulation of Fleming’s sad, Frankenstein-like story and I was determined to include it somewhere; the devil was where. It appeared in various parts of the book until it settled in its present position. 

Then the dramatic end scene: Ann burning a new Bond manuscript in the drawing room fireplace at Sevenhampton. I knew as soon as I heard this, without having to justify or explain it to myself, that it somehow made for a perfect finale. I trusted the teller (Thomas Heneage) that it had happened, that he had seen it.

Davis: How would you describe Ian Fleming? And how would you describe James Bond? 

Shakespeare: Ian Fleming was a misunderstood and melancholic puritan, damaged by a controlling mother and forced into being a blacker sheep than he naturally was by the all-round dominance of his brilliant elder brother Peter. But this IF disguised a kind and loyal figure who crammed much more into his life than most of us.

James Bond was a fantasy version of Fleming, the Intelligence Officer that IF might have become during the Cold War; in 1945, IF had come close to accepting the offer of a senior Intelligence position in the overhauled SIS that he had had a hand in reshaping. He declined. His fictional agent, on the other hand, would take the job. He would work for the new Ministry, in which he would rise “to the rank of Principal Officer in the Civil Service.” Simultaneously, under the renewed direction of England’s victorious wartime Prime Minister, his modern buccaneer would do battle with a fresh enemy, Soviet Russia (every Bond villain except Jack and Serrafimo Spang in Diamonds are Forever “usually works to help Russia,” in Umberto Eco’s phrase). He would execute in modern form those plans which Ian had conceived against the Nazis. In wartime, Ian had put these ideas into life; in uneasy peace, he would put them into fiction.

Davis: The best part of the biography, in my view, is your coverage of Ian Fleming’s experience in naval intelligence in WWII. What were his major contributions to the war effort? 

Shakespeare: His American counterparts believed that he was effectively head of British Naval Intelligence. He had his fingers in every conceivable Intelligence pie. He helped set up the Propaganda unit with Sefton Delmer; the Topographical unit with Robert Harling; the intelligence-gathering commando unit, 30AU, which captured the entire German naval archives in May 1945, as well as several Enigma machines (so shortening the war, some historians argue, by as much as 18 months). Then there was his contribution to setting up the COI (see above) with Colonel Donovan, the US’s first foreign intelligence organization, largely based on British Naval Intelligence.

Davis: How big a part of his James Bond thrillers came from his service in naval intelligence? 

Shakespeare: Almost all! A perception of F’s novels that he did much to popularize is that they were a series of sensational fantasies based on “the most hopeless sounding plots”. This was not the case. They were grounded in reality and a truth that he could not reveal but had intensely experienced. He wrote what he knew. By converting his lived experience into fiction, and updating it, he released the burden of that knowledge. Iva Patcevitch, New York chairman of Condé Nast, visited F when he was typing out his first Bond novel, Casino Royale in 1952. “I think he wrote the books primarily because he had a great deal of knowledge of things like this within him, and he had to get it out.” 

Asked to calculate the percentage of himself in the Bond books, Fleming gave this estimation. 'I can say ninety per cent personal experience really.' He took the cards he had been dealt and slipped them to Bond, then re-arranged them to play a winning hand.

Davis: I was fortunate to spend a week with my wife at Goldeneye in 1984, when the villa was rustic and exotic as it was when Ian Fleming lived there. We loved it. We met Ian Fleming’s housekeeper Violet during our stay. Her eyes teared up when I asked her about Ian Fleming. The Commander was a good man, she said. Would Ian Fleming have written the Bond series had he not had Goldeneye to retreat to? 

Shakespeare: This was IF’s conviction. “Would these books have been born if I had not been living in the gorgeous vacuum of a Jamaican holiday? I doubt it.”

Davis: Why didn’t you cover more in-depth Ian Fleming’s world travels for the Sunday Times and his research for his thrillers? Next to his time in naval intelligence, this for me was the most interesting part of his life. Sans fist and gun fights, I think Ian Fleming was a more interesting character than his creation, James Bond. 

Shakespeare: I had to make a decision about what not to write about. (As it is, I spent two months cutting 50,000 words). He had so many interests, I could easily have written a book on Fleming and golf; Fleming and cars; Fleming and women; Fleming’s Jamaica; Fleming’s New York, Fleming’s travels, Fleming’s war etc., etc. Having already written about a genuine travel writer, Bruce Chatwin (with whom F shared not a few characteristics), I personally didn’t feel that F’s travels trespassed too much beyond the borders of Sunday-supplement journalism.

Davis: Your biography covers his complicated family life well, and his late-in-life success as an author. Do you see his later life as a tragedy, considering that he didn’t live to enjoy the wealth from the Bond books, or live to see the film Goldfinger and the spy-craze that he set off with his novels? 

Shakespeare: It is a Frankenstein story, as his wife and first authorized biographer John Pearson both came to recognize. Bond was his Frankenstein's monster,” said Ann. Pearson could only agree. He wrote in notes for an article he never published, provisionally to be called The Curse of Bond: “It always reminded me of how Dr Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s scary novel suddenly realized that the monster he’d created had become too powerful, and his creator was no longer able to control or destroy him by simply ceasing to write books about him. 

IF’s niece Mary reflects, “When Ian said his fame was ashes, just saying it brings tears to my eye. I know it’s exactly how he felt.” Selby Armitage, someone he grew up with, who had known IF all his life, met him not long before he died, and they were talking under the lime trees at Nettlebed. “Ian, what’s it like, what’s it really like to be famous? It’s a thing you always wanted when you were young. Are you enjoying it now you’ve got it?” He looked very sorry for himself. “It was all right for a bit… But now, my God. Ashes, old boy. Just ashes… I’d swap the whole damned thing for a healthy heart.” 

One of my favorite stories was told me by Algy Cluff, then a young Grenadier Guards officer, who sat next to IF at a bridge evening in Boodle’s in the autumn of 1963. “He says to me how fatigued he is, exasperated, with his celebrity. It’s not what he wanted. I said rather importunately, ‘What do you want in life?’ and received the astonishing reply, ‘To be the Captain of the Royal St George’s Golf Club.’” He was Captain Designate for three days, and then he died.

Davis: Some have said that Ian Fleming would not be read today were it not for the popular film series. (The same can be said for Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Homes and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlow). Do you think Ian Fleming would still read today if the film series had not been so successful? 

Shakespeare: There’s a measure of truth in this. Eric Ambler, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Peter Cheyney, Mickey Spillane. Not one of the authors with whom Fleming was compared created a character who has continued to prosper against traditional gambling odds. An easy answer would be that the films were exceptionally popular and have kept Bond going since Fleming death aged 56 in 1964. Yet could it be that they were only so popular because the character Fleming created was so unique and captivating, at once a hero of modernization and yet a symbol of retrospective power? In this respect, Bond is like the gold Louis that Fleming observed in Monte Carlo: an out-of-date currency unaccountably still in use. 

James Bond is a product of his era and a reflector of his times,' the writer Paul Gallico astutely said of 007 back in 1961. The same is true today. He needs no introduction. 

Those five words 'The name's Bond, James Bond' ignite a smile the world over. As IF’s niece Gilly told me, He is better known than God. All the Tibetans know of James Bond. They’ve never heard of God. The Italian film director Adolfo Celi was welcomed with feasts in forlorn villages in Africa where they had never seen or read anything, but where they had seen Thunderball. 

The lower the sun has sunk on the empire Bond was born into, the more radiant his glow. If Bond is immortal, then it's because he's at once a hero of modernization and yet a symbol of retrospective power. He serves as a modern, aspirational Everyman. IF gave his readers license to imagine themselves in Bond's shoes, in his car, in his bed, navigating the post-war world and its challenges with the aplomb of one of the elite. When Bond recommends the Edwardian Room in the Plaza, a corner table, the reader may rest assured that Bond has sat there and for a pleasurable instant is able to imagine sitting in the same seat. 

Via Bond, we are given entry to a club that feels exclusive, of which we can be temporary members. A Blades open to all. 

This is the Bond effect. He is a suave vacuum who invites us all to put ourselves in his position and say, “that is how I want to live.” Almost everyone has an element of Bond in them – or a would-be Bond, said John Pearson. He reaches so many areas of contradiction in a great mass of humanity – most people feel they’ve failed, most people feel bored, all the things that Bond suffers from – but Bond does actually have the power to go out and do something about it – he goes off and he fights Blofeld or Goldfinger, all the demons, he goes and fights and he wins.

Ian Fleming: The Complete Man: My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On Nicholas Shakespeare, The Author Of The New Biography Of The Creator Of James Bond

The Washington Times ran my On Crime column on Nicholas Shakespeare and his new biography of the late, great thriller writer Ian Fleming. 

You can read the column via the below link or the below text:


 BOOK REVIEW: 'Ian Fleming: The Complete Man' - Washington Times 

I’ve been an Ian Fleming aficionado since my teens, so I was pleased to read “Ian Fleming: The Complete Man,” the new biography by Nicholas Shakespeare (seen in the below photo).

I contacted Mr. Shakespeare and asked him why he wrote the biography.


“When I was approached to write a new authorized biography of Ian Fleming, the first since 1966, my initial reaction was hesitation,” Mr. Shakespeare replied. “Could I face spending so long in the company of a melancholic cad and creator of the cold killing machine, James Bond? This incomplete image was my only image of Fleming.

“Before rejecting the proposal, I did some background research, and I found to my surprise that Fleming, the sardonic bounder, was kinder than I’d hitherto imagined. Again and again, the many women he’d had affairs with looked back on him with fondness, describing his kindliness as his chief characteristic. This was not a quality I’d associated with James Bond.


“There is much more to Fleming than Bond, a character he created almost as an afterthought in the last twelve years of his life, when the most interesting part of it was essentially over.


“To simplify horribly, there would be no James Bond had Fleming not led the life he did, but if Bond had not existed, Fleming is someone we should still want to know about.”


How would you describe Ian Fleming?


Thursday, May 30, 2024

RIP Retired Defense Department Civilian Employee Gerard "Jerry" Rose

I received the sad news that retired Defense Department civilian employee Gerard "Jerry" Rose had died.

We worked together for more than 20 years at the Defense Department depot in South Philadelphia known locally as the "Quartermaster" (see bottom photo), and later at the Navy depot in Northeast Philadelphia.

Jerry was highly intelligent, funny, and hard-working and serious about our work at the Defense Contract Management Area Philadelphia (DCMA Philadelphia). DCMA oversees defense contractors for the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and other government agencies.  

Jerry will be missed by his family, friends and former coworkers.

Paul Davis On Crime: The Philadelphia Quartermaster Revisited 

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

911 S5 Botnet Dismantled And Its Administrator Arrested In Coordinated International Operation

 The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

A court-authorized international law enforcement operation led by the U.S. Justice Department disrupted a botnet used to commit cyber attacks, large-scale fraud, child exploitation, harassment, bomb threats, and export violations.

As part of this operation, YunHe Wang, 35, a People’s Republic of China national and St. Kitts and Nevis citizen-by-investment, was arrested on May 24 on criminal charges arising from his deployment of malware and the creation and operation of a residential proxy service known as “911 S5.”

According to an indictment unsealed on May 24, from 2014 through July 2022, Wang and others are alleged to have created and disseminated malware to compromise and amass a network of millions of residential Windows computers worldwide. These devices were associated with more than 19 million unique IP addresses, including 613,841 IP addresses located in the United States. Wang then generated millions of dollars by offering cybercriminals access to these infected IP addresses for a fee.

“This Justice Department-led operation brought together law enforcement partners from around the globe to disrupt 911 S5, a botnet that facilitated cyber-attacks, large-scale fraud, child exploitation, harassment, bomb threats, and export violations,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “As a result of this operation, YunHe Wang was arrested on charges that he created and operated the botnet and deployed malware. This case makes clear that the long arm of the law stretches across borders and into the deepest shadows of the dark web, and the Justice Department will never stop fighting to hold cybercriminals to account.”

“Working with our international partners, the FBI conducted a joint, sequenced cyber operation to dismantle the 911 S5 Botnet—likely the world’s largest botnet ever,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.  “We arrested its administrator, Yunhe Wang, seized infrastructure and assets, and levied sanctions against Wang and his co-conspirators. The 911 S5 Botnet infected computers in nearly 200 countries and facilitated a whole host of computer-enabled crimes, including financial frauds, identity theft, and child exploitation. This operation demonstrates the FBI’s commitment to working shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners to protect American businesses and the American people, and we will work tirelessly to unmask and arrest the cybercriminals who profit from this illegal activity.”

According to court documents, Wang allegedly propagated his malware through Virtual Private Network (VPN) programs, such as MaskVPN and DewVPN (torrent distribution models that he operated) and pay-per-install services that bundled his malware with other program files, including pirated versions of licensed software or copyrighted materials. Wang then managed and controlled approximately 150 dedicated servers worldwide, approximately 76 of which he leased from U.S. based online service providers. Using the dedicated servers, Wang deployed and managed applications, commanded and controlled the infected devices, operated his 911 S5 service, and provided paying customers with access to proxied IP addresses associated with the infected devices.

“As alleged in the indictment, Wang created malware that compromised millions of residential computers around the world and then sold access to the infected computers to cybercriminals,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “These criminals used the hijacked computers to conceal their identities and commit a host of crimes, from fraud to cyberstalking. Cybercriminals should take note. Today’s announcement sends a clear message that the Criminal Division and its law enforcement partners are firm in their resolve to disrupt the most technologically sophisticated criminal tools and hold wrongdoers to account.”

“YunHe Wang created and administered a residential proxy service—a botnet known as 911 S5—that affected millions of computers all over the world,” said U.S. Attorney Damien M. Diggs for the Eastern District of Texas. “He will now be held accountable. Proxy services like 911 S5 are pervasive threats that shield criminals behind the compromised IP addresses of residential computers worldwide. Successfully tackling a problem of this scale is only possible with strong collaboration and exceptional investigative work between our law enforcement partners at home and abroad, and we stand ready to hold accountable anyone—no matter where they are located—who exploits our telecommunications infrastructure for their own criminal purpose.”

Cybercriminals then used proxied IP addresses purchased from 911 S5 to conceal their true originating IP addresses and locations, and anonymously commit a wide array of offenses. These offenses including financial crimes, stalking, transmitting bomb threats and threats of harm, illegal exportation of goods, and receiving and sending child exploitation materials. Since 2014, 911 S5 allegedly enabled cybercriminals to bypass financial fraud detection systems and steal billions of dollars from financial institutions, credit card issuers, and federal lending programs.

911 S5 customers allegedly targeted certain pandemic relief programs. For example, the United States estimates that 560,000 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims originated from compromised IP addresses, resulting in a confirmed fraudulent loss exceeding $5.9 billion. Additionally, in evaluating suspected fraud loss to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, the United States estimates that more than 47,000 EIDL applications originated from IP addresses compromised by 911 S5. Millions of dollars more were similarly identified by financial institutions in the United States as loss originating from IP addresses compromised by 911 S5.

The 911 S5 client interface software, which was hosted on U.S.-based servers, enabled cybercriminals located outside of the United States to purchase goods with stolen credit cards or criminally derived proceeds, and illegally export them outside of the United States contrary to U.S. export laws, such as the Export Administration Regulations (EAR). The 911 S5 client interface may also contain encryption or other features which subject it to export controls detailed in the EAR. Accordingly, downloads of the 911 S5 client interface software by certain foreign nationals without a license may constitute violations of the EAR.

“The disruption, seizure, and arrest of the perpetrator(s) responsible for the 911 S5 cybercriminal enterprise demonstrates the forward leaning posture of the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Cyber Field Office,” said DCIS Director Kelly P. Mayo. “This investigation showcases the critical import of identifying and pursuing emerging threats and technologies targeting our warfighters, and the industrial base that supports them. Today’s announcement illustrates the magnitude of cooperation within federal law enforcement and our foreign partners pursuing criminals in the rapidly evolving cybercrime arena.”

The indictment further alleges that from 2018 until July 2022, Wang received approximately $99 million from his sales of the hijacked proxied IP addresses through his 911 S5 operation, either in cryptocurrency or fiat currency. Wang used the illicitly gained proceeds to purchase real property in the United States, St. Kitts and Nevis, China, Singapore, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. The indictment identifies dozens of assets and properties subject to forfeiture, including a 2022 Ferrari F8 Spider S-A, a BMW i8, a BMW X7 M50d, a Rolls Royce, more than a dozen domestic and international bank accounts, over two dozen cryptocurrency wallets, several luxury wristwatches, 21 residential or investment properties (across Thailand, Singapore, the U.A.E., St. Kitts and Nevis, and the United States), and 20 domains.

Law enforcement initially focused on 911 S5 during an investigation of a money laundering and smuggling scheme, where criminal actors in Ghana and the United States used hijacked IP addresses purchased from 911 S5 to place fraudulent orders using stolen credit cards on the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) online e-commerce platform known as ShopMyExchange. Although approximately 2,525 fraudulent orders valued at $5.5 million were submitted, credit card fraud detection systems and federal investigators were able to thwart the bulk of the attempted purchases, reducing the actual loss to approximately $254,000.

“The conduct alleged here reads like it’s ripped from a screenplay: A scheme to sell access to millions of malware-infected computers worldwide, enabling criminals over the world to steal billions of dollars, transmit bomb threats, and exchange child exploitation materials—then using the scheme’s nearly $100 million in profits to buy luxury cars, watches, and real estate,” said Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). “What they don’t show in the movies though is the painstaking work it takes by domestic and international law enforcement, working closely with industry partners, to take down such a brazen scheme and make an arrest like this happen.” 

Wang is charged with conspiracy to commit computer fraud, substantive computer fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. If convicted on all counts, Wang faces a maximum penalty of 65 years in prison.

This operation was a coordinated multiagency effort led by law enforcement in the United States, Singapore, Thailand, and Germany. Agents and officers searched residences, seized assets valued at approximately $30 million, and identified additional forfeitable property valued at approximately $30 million. The operation also seized 23 domains and over 70 servers constituting the backbone of Wang’s prior residential proxy service and the recent incarnation of the service. By seizing multiple domains tied to the historical 911 S5, as well as several new domains and services directly linked to an effort to reconstitute the service, the government has successfully terminated Wang’s efforts to further victimize individuals through his newly formed service and closed the existing malicious backdoors.

On May 28, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued financial sanctionsagainst Wang, Jingping Liu, and Yanni Zheng, for their activities associated with 911 S5, and three entities for being owned or controlled by Wang.

The FBI Dallas and Denver Field Offices, DCIS Cyber Field Office, and BIS Office of Export Enforcement’s Dallas field office are investigating the case.

Trial Attorneys Candy Heath and Lydia Lichlyter of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Camelia Lopez and William Tatum for the Eastern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.

The Department appreciates the significant assistance provided by the Attorney-General’s Chambers of Singapore, Singapore Police Force (SPF), Royal Thai Police, and the Office of the Attorney General and the Anti-Money Laundering Office of the Kingdom of Thailand. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section provided crucial support to this operation. The Treasury Department’s OFAC also provided support to this operation. Additionally, the Department offers its thanks to Chainalysis, the Shadowserver Foundation, and Microsoft for the assistance provided by each during the investigation and the operation.

For more information or to determine if you are a victim of 911 S5 malware, please visit

An indictment is merely an allegation. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Tuesday, May 28, 2024

On This Day In History Ian Fleming, The Creator Of James Bond, Was Born

On this day in 1908 the late, great thriller writer Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, the world’s most famous fictional spy, was born. 

Fleming died of a heart attack at age 56 in 1964. 

As notes, Ian Lancaster Fleming was born into a well-to-do family in London on May 28, 1908.

"As an adult, he worked as a foreign correspondent, a stockbroker and a personal assistant to Britain’s director of naval intelligence during World War II–experiences that would all provide fodder for his Bond novels. The series of novels about the debonair Agent 007, based in part on their dashing author’s real-life experiences, spawned one of the most lucrative film franchises in history.  

"The first Bond book, Casino Royale, was published in 1953. In all, Fleming wrote 12 novels and two short story collections about Agent 007, which together sold more than 18 million copies. According to The New York Times: “Bond himself, Fleming said, was ‘a compound of all the secret agents and commandos I met during the war,’ but his tastes– in blondes, martinis ‘shaken, not stirred,’ expensively tailored suits, scrambled eggs, short-sleeved shirts and Rolex watches–were Fleming’s own. But not all the comparisons were ones the author liked to encourage. Bond, he said, had ‘more guts than I have’ as well as being ‘more handsome. 

"The first Bond film, Dr. No, was released in 1962; it starred the Scottish actor Sean Connery in the title role. Connery played Bond in six films altogether; From Russia With Love (1963) and Goldfinger (1964) were the only ones made during Fleming’s lifetime. Since that time, five other actors—George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig—have played the superspy in some two dozen films from EON Productions."

You can read three of my Crime Beat columns on Ian Fleming via the below links: 

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Beat Column: The Ian Fleming and James Bond Phenomenon

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Beat Column: A Look Back At Ian Fleming's Iconic James Bond Character

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Spies, Lies And Deception: Proof That Ian Fleming’s Imagination Wasn't So Fanciful After All

Simon Heffer at the British newspaper the Telegraph offers a piece on an upcoming exhibit at the Imperial War Museum

A ghetto blaster from the early 1980s is just one fascinating object in an exhibition called Spies, Lies and Deception opening this Friday at the Imperial War Museum in London, running until next April. This particular blaster is unusual: from the Soviet era, it contained Russian surveillance equipment. In James Bond mode, there is also a fountain pen that fired jets of tear gas, a clutch bag designed by the KGB with a camera in it, a box of matches one of which was a stylus for writing secret messages, and a hollowed-out brush whose cavity could contain film. They were the utensils of the Cold War, proving that Ian Fleming’s imagination was not unduly wild.

The displays include deception in warfare, such as netting covered with camouflage used to conceal trenches from enemy aircraft in the Great War, observation posts disguised as trees and a yeti-like camouflage suit. We learn of the artist Solomon J Solomon, whose such camouflage was. The technique was advanced in the Second World War, and among the exhibits are aerial photographs (for me one of the great surprises of the exhibition) showing how another artist, Christopher Ironside, successfully camouflaged factories to disguise them from German bombers; and the Germans used camouflage in Hamburg to convince the RAF it was bombing factories when it was bombing a lake. Experts from the film studios at Shepperton helped design decoy RAF airfields to mislead the Luftwaffe.

 You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Spies, Lies and Deception: proof that Ian Fleming’s imagination wasn't so fanciful after all (

You can also read my Crime Beat column interview with Ben Macintyre, the author of For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming & James Bond via the below link:

Note: The top photo is of a matchbox containing one match adapted for writing secret messages from WWII. And the above photo is of Ian Fleming. 

Friday, May 24, 2024

My Crime Fiction: 'The Cherry Boy'

The below story is chapter 17 of Olongapo, a crime novel I hope to soon publish. 

The story originally appeared in American Crime Magazine. 

The Cherry Boy

By Paul Davis

Wilbur Grady grew up poor on a farm in Arkansas. 

His family was deeply religious, and Grady was advised by his father not to let the sins of the flesh and other temptations make him stray from the flock while he served in the U.S. Navy. 

But Wilbur Grady’s father did not foresee the temptations of Olongapo, nor did he see the greed and treachery of John Bland. 

Grady, a shy, soft-spoken young man with blonde hair, did not curse, did not drink, did not take drugs, did not gamble, and did not consort with fast women.   

On the Kitty Hawk’s initial visits to Subic Bay, Grady did not leave the base and go into Olongapo. He enjoyed Grande Island and other base entertainment, but he stayed clear of Olongapo’s bars and bar girls. 

Grady was not a good sailor. He did not adjust well from his sheltered life on the farm to Navy life on an aircraft carrier. He was in a perpetual state of nervousness and that nervousness made him error prone. He fouled up often and he was often chewed out by the chiefs and petty officers, which of course increased his nervousness. Gray failed in nearly every task he was assigned to. Grady even failed to make coffee properly for the message center. 

Coffee was important to us in the Communications Radio Division, as we worked hard on our eight-on and eight off watches, and we were so wound up that many of us had trouble sleeping during our eight hours off watch. Strong Navy coffee helped keep us alert and able when we went back on watch.  

I had the top rack above two other racks in the berthing compartment, which was good as the top rack was open at the top, so I didn’t feel like I was in a coffin. But just above me were pipes for the steam catapult system that launched our aircraft off the carrier’s flight deck. 

During flight operations, the gush of steam that ran through the pipes and the thump of the aircraft launching above me often prevented me from sleeping or woke me if I were already asleep. So when I had to report for my watch, a good cup of strong Navy coffee was essential.  

We had a three-foot high coffee urn in a cubbyhole room in the message center. The low-ranking seamen had to refill the urn with water and make fresh coffee for the officers, chiefs, petty officers, and other seamen on watch in the message center. Once filled with water, the urn was quite heavy and awkward to carry from the head to the message processing center. 

I recall one watch when Grady was assigned to make the coffee. We had a deep sink in the head and several new seamen, including Grady on this day, spotted it and laid the urn in the deep sink and filled it with water. Grady then lifted the heavy urn up and carried it into the message center and made the coffee. 

It did not take long before one of the chiefs gagged on the fresh coffee and demanded to know what numbskull made the coffee. Grady was severely chastised and informed that the deep sink in the head produced salt water rather than fresh water.  

I had been warned not to use the deep sink for coffee by my older shipmates. I was told that the proper but difficult way to fill the large coffee urn with water was to stand in a shower stall and direct the stream of cold water into the urn. 

Grady’s nervousness was further fueled by his witnessing a prank in the message center’s coffee cubbyhole. Chief Hank Newly was a demanding and unpopular chief who often ordered seamen to refill his coffee mug, which we resented. We usually muttered, “Why don’t you get your own fucking coffee” under our breath. 

None of the other chiefs, or even the officers, ever asked the seamen to get them coffee. In fact, Lieutenant James Horn, a cool officer we all liked, said to Newly, “I get up and get my own coffee, so why can’t you, chief?”

Newly just looked at the officer without comment. 

Seaman Matt Svenson was a weightlifter and jokester from Kansas who truly resented getting the chief coffee. The muscle-bound sailor smiled at me, Grady, Greenberg, and a seaman named Mick Stills as we crowded into the cubbyhole as Svenson was filling Chief Newly's coffee mug. 

“Watch this,” Svenson said to us. He then placed the tip of his penis into the coffee in the chief’s mug. 

His jokester’s grin disappeared as he screamed out in pain. Greenberg took hold of the mug before it crashed to the floor. He laid the chief’s mug on a counter and held on to Svenson’s arm. 

“The coffee’s hot, you fucking idiot,” I said as Svenson collapsed against a bulkhead. Stills laughed and Grady appeared to go into shock. Greenberg took Svenson’s arm and told him that he would take him to sick bay.

“Tell the corpsman in sick bay that you burned your dick getting into a hot shower with a hard-on,” Greenberg told Svenson.

Greenberg and Svenson left for sick bay, leaving me to tell the grumpy chief that Svenson burned himself and was taken to sick bay. I didn’t tell him how or where Svenson had burned himself. The chief grumbled and cursed Svenson. He did not inquire about the cause or extent of Svenson’s injury.

Seaman Alfred Oswald came up behind me and I moved to the side. Oswald was an awkward and odd 25-year-old sailor from Michigan. He had sandy hair, wore thick glasses and had a prominent Adams Apple that rose and fell in his neck like a bobbing apple. We called him “Lee Harvey” after President Kennedy’s odd-ball assassin

Oswald had retrieved the chief’s coffee mug from the counter in the cubbyhole after we left, and he handed the mug to Newly. “Here’s your coffee, chief.”

“You’re a real kiss ass, Lee Harvey,” I said as I walked away.

I saw Stills walking about the message center, telling the young sailors that Svenson placed his penis in the chief’s coffee mug. Every time the chief raised the mug to his lips, the young sailors burst out laughing.

“What’s wrong with you morons?” the chief asked. “Turn fucking to!”

Svenson recovered and he happily told all the enlisted sailors his “dick in the chief’s coffee mug” story. I’m not sure if the story reached Chief Newly or not. If so, he didn’t take disciplinary action against Svenson, or ever mention the incident to anyone. But the chief never again asked Svenson to get him coffee.


Grady was never quite able to get the image of Svenson’s burnt penis in the chief’s coffee mug out of his mind, which increased his anxiety. John Bland saw an opportunity shortly after the dick in the chief’s coffee mug incident and latched onto Grady. Grady was a trusting and naive young man, so when Bland offered to help him overcome his nervousness and become a better sailor, Grady was thankful. Bland manipulated Grady easily and had him running errands for him and doing some of his work while we were at sea.

I thought Bland was a creep. I recall when the Kitty Hawk dropped anchor in Da Nang Harbor just off the huge American base in South Vietnam. The Kitty Hawk pulled into Da Nang Harbor to hold a change of command ceremony aboard the carrier for the Task Force 77 outgoing and incoming admirals. 

I was leaning over the catwalk watching the activity ashore at Da Nang as well as on the ships and boats that sailed by us in the busy harbor. The sailors on the boats were curious to see the giant aircraft carrier in their midst, and many American sailors on 50-foot Swift Boats and other craft looked up and waved, as did many of the Vietnamese fishermen. I waved back. 

Bland came up and stood beside me on the catwalk. As a Vietnamese fishing boat sailed by, Bland hit the deck and put his arms over his head. 

“What the fuck are you doing?” I asked. 

“I think that gook on the boat had a rifle,” Bland replied as he laid shakily on the catwalk’s deck. 

“You think a Viet Cong guerrilla is going to take on an 80,000-ton aircraft carrier with a rifle? Or maybe you think a Viet Cong sapper is out to assassinate you in particular? You’re a smacked ass, Bland.”

Later, while in Olongapo, I saw Grady and Bland in the Starlight and I just knew that Bland had Grady buying all of the drinks for himself, Bland, and the two bar girls at the table. I’m certain that Bland told Grady one of his sob stories about a family crisis at home that caused Bland to send his entire pay back home to his family, leaving him broke. I’m equally sure that Grady believed Bland’s fairy tale.

The two bar girls appeared to be overjoyed with the ‘Cherry Boy,” as he was buying. Svenson saw the group as he was walking by the table, and he sat down in an empty chair.

“Hey, Cherry Boy Grady. I see you finally come to town,” Svenson said. “And I see you got yourself a Cherry girl too. You know, she’s only had two lovers before you – the 6th and 7th Fleet.”

Grady just smiled nervously as the others laughed.

“I hear that some sailor caught VD from your girl,” Svenson said to Grady. “Well, here today, gonorrhea.”

Grady didn’t know how to react to Svenson’s taunting and old jokes, so he continued to smile nervously as the other sailors laughed. The bar girl next to Grady took offense and she flicked a lit cigarette at Svenson and said, “Fuck you, sail-lor.

Svenson chuckled at the irate bar girl, and he got up from the table and went to the bar. He returned to the table and offered Grady a hard-boiled egg. I suspected that the egg was a balut, a fertilized developing duck egg that Filipinos considered a delicacy but nauseated most Americans. I tried to stop Grady from cracking open the shell, but I was too late. Seeing and smelling the duck embryo made Grady physically sick and he threw up on the floor.

Svenson, Bland and the bar girls laughed. Grady didn’t laugh, nor did the Filipino who came out with a mop and bucket to clean up the mess.

“You might say that Grady’s had a premature ejaculation,” Svenson said.

“You’re an asshole, Svenson,” I said.

At some point in the evening, Bland and Grady slipped out of the Starlight and left the two bar girls behind. I suspect that Bland didn’t want to pay the mama-san for taking the girls out of the bar early, as he was notoriously cheap, even when it was Grady’s money they were spending. Bland later solicited a street prostitute for Grady’s first tryst.

The following day back on the carrier, Bland told the other sailors that Grady had his first piece of “poontang,” and how much the young virgin farmer loved it. What Bland did not say was that he took some of Grady’s money and bought heroin, which he had convinced Grady to take to overcome his nervousness by being with a woman for the first time.

According to Lorino, Olongapo had nearly pure “smack,” and the strong heroin caused a user to become addicted to it very quickly. 

After another long line period on Yankee Station, we pulled back into Olongapo.

I saw Bland and Grady hurrying to get off the ship and into Olongapo. Some of the sailors laughed after Svenson said, “Grady got him a taste of that good Olongapo pussy, and now he can’t wait to get more.”

What I didn’t know at the time was that for the entire line period Grady had been injecting heroin. Bland convinced Grady that “shooting up” heroin would help him with his chronic nervousness.

Bland and Grady were anxious to get into Olongapo so they could score more heroin to satisfy Grady’s growing addiction. Bland did not do heroin, but he graciously offered to buy the drug for Grady. Knowing Bland, he inflated the price for the heroin and overcharged Grady, keeping the additional money for himself.

The heroin Grady took did help to calm him down, but it didn’t help with his poor job performance. In fact, being on heroin made him an even worst sailor.

I saw Grady in the head stumbling around and I asked him, “Are you on drugs?”

Grady admitted to me that he was shooting up heroin and he explained Bland’s encouragement, believing that Bland was helping him. I warned Grady that Bland was a cheap con artist, and he was using him, but I don’t think Grady believed me.

I was pissed at Bland, and I told Hunt about it. Hunt and I were in the head talking about Bland when he walked in. Hunt punched him square in the face and Bland fell against a bulkhead, his nose bloody.

“You’re a piece of shit, Bland.” Hunt said and he and I walked out of the head.    


Later, while on watch in the message center, Grady nodded from the heroin and fell out of a chair. He could not be revived, so he was carried to sick bay. The doctor diagnosed that Grady was a heroin addict. The doctor also discovered that Grady had Gonorrhea. Grady was put on report. Grady was to be issued a general discharge and plans were made to fly him off the carrier and to Subic Bay for his processing out of the Navy once he was cured of his venereal disease.

Grady, like me, was 18.

Over the course of only three months, Grady went from a teetotaler to a full-blown heroin addict. And he went from an innocent virgin to getting the clap from having sex with a Olongapo street prostitute.

Grady came to me to say goodbye prior to his flight off the carrier.

“I don’t know what to do,” Grady said to me. “My family disowned me. I got me no money and I know I’m gonna need some more smack when I get to San Diego.”

“You need a smack in the mouth,” I said. Grady smiled sheepishly.

“When you get to San Diego, check in with the Veterans Administration and get placed in a rehab center. Get clean and sober and start your life over.”

“Good advice, Davis. Thank you.”

“And don’t ever, ever come back to Olongapo.”

© 2024 Paul Davis  

Note: You can read my other posted Olongapo chapters via the below links:

Paul Davis On Crime: Chapter One: Butterfly

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: 'Salvatore Lorino'

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: The Old Huk

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: Join The Navy And See Olongapo

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: 'Boots On The Ground'

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: 'The 30-Day Detail'

Paul Davis On Crime: My Crime Fiction: 'Cat Street'