Top 10 Dumbest Spies Of All Time

10 Michael Bettaney MI5 made a recruitment blunder by signing up Hitler-loving, alcoholic Michael Bettaney

At one party Bettaney is said to have drank two bottles of neat whisky, shouted how he’d rather work for the Russians and then set himself on fire Turns out Bettaney actually was working for the Russians but he wasn’t very good at that either After trying to ram a load of secret documents into a Russian official’s letterbox, the Russians themselves turned him over to the British, thinking it was a trap 09 Ryan Fogle In 2013 Ryan Fogle was arrested in Moscow while wearing an ill-fitting blond wig and carrying a compass, a map of the city and a really old Nokia phone

He’d been trying to recruit a Russian agent Fogle, an alleged CIA spy, was also holding a spare wig, $100,000 in cash, and a letter to his target This included detailed instructions on how to set-up a Gmail account for future, ‘secret’ communications He’d also brought 4 pairs of sunglasses with him – even though the mission was taking place at night The so-called James Blond was expelled from Russia within a week

08 James Hall III Selling US secrets on average at $7,500 each, James Hall amassed a fortune of $300,000 from his Communist spymasters and used it to fund a lavish lifestyle way beyond his means An expensive new Volvo and a massive house made colleagues suspicious, so Hall invented a story about having a rich aunt who had died and left him all the money He was finally caught after boasting to an undercover FBI agent about how he’d been selling Top Secret data to East Germany and the USSR 07

Earl Edwin Pitts Described as ‘a lame-brain’ with an ‘IQ as high as a room temperature’ by US law enforcement, Earl Edwin Pitts was an FBI agent who made $224,000 selling secrets to the Soviet Union Pitts would stuff cash into his office ceiling, even though he found a surveillance camera monitoring him up there He’d also count out his money and arrange it into neat piles while holding briefings with other agents Pitts even carried on trying to sell secrets after he found out that his wife had told the FBI about his activities He’s currently serving a 27 year sentence

06 The Russian Trio In 2015 three Russian spies were charged with trying to recruit US citizens They were particularly interested in recruiting female students from universities but lacked the necessary charm They were recorded saying that women “don’t allow you to get close enough” The trio weren’t particularly subtle either, being caught by FBI surveillance almost 50 times in less than two years

During phone conversations they’d use code words but have no cover story, constantly talking about delivering ‘tickets’ to each other without ever actually going to a movie or sports game 05 Robert Hanssen For 22 years FBI agent Robert Hanssen worked as a Russian mole, evading capture because the FBI trusted him with the investigation to find the mole! On one occasion he tried to use a password cracking program on his FBI computer but tricked suspicious investigators by saying he needed it to get the password for the office printer But the master spy made one dumb mistake – casual racism Hanssen often used the weird slur ‘purple-pissing Japanese’ and, after the FBI learned the mole used it too, they soon realized he was the leak

04 The Himalayan SNAP Unit Worried about China’s nuclear capabilities, the USA and India teamed up to spy on Chinese missile tests but the Himalayas were inconveniently in the way To get round the problem, a spy team tried to put a nuclear-powered listening device on top of Nanda Devi, one of the highest mountains in the world However, a blizzard halted progress but rather than take the nuclear device back down, they tied it to some rocks and hoped to collect it later When they returned after 6 months, it was gone

Swept away by an avalanche, it was never found 03 Harold James Nicholson Nicolson betrayad the CIA after they refused to let him work in Kuala Lumpur, where he’d have a free house with a pool and maid While selling secrets to the Russians, he aroused suspicion by trying and failing to beat a routine lie-detector test by taking unusually deep breaths At the office, he hung a poster-sized picture of himself on the wall and used agency computers to search databases for Russian-related topics – even though he had no need for such info

After being caught in 1996 and sentenced to 23 years in prison, he added another 8 years by getting his son to continue collecting his Russian back pay 02 Operation Pastorius In 1942, the Nazis tried to land 4 secret agents in New York, so they could bomb the city After their submarine temporarily got stuck on a sand bank, the German spies almost drowned trying to get their inflatable raft to shore Once on the beach they were immediately spotted by the Coast Guard and pretended to be American fisherman

Unfortunately one of the spies started speaking German and another was still wearing his swimming trunks Instead, they tried to bribe the guard and ran off but were immediately reported All four men were captured within a week, after one of them turned himself in to the FBI 01 The Illegals Program This group of eleven Russian spies are perhaps best known for including Anna Chapman but she was so incompetent that she registered a cell phone to 99 Fake Street to avoid detection

Another member wrote down a 27-character randomly generated password on a sticky note, this was later used by investigators to crack over 100 files They also used public wi-fi networks to transfer data and sent their laptops off for repair to FBI agents posing as tech guys Although some of them had operated in the USA for a decade, together they learned so little classified information that the FBI couldn’t even charge them with espionage

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