In 1953, a paper boy acquired a hollowed-out nickel containing a ciphered message while collecting for his deliveries. He told the daughter of an NYPD officer and the news got to the FBI, eventually leading to the arrest and conviction of KGB agent Vilyam Fisher four years later.
Ernest Hemingway was recruited as a spy for the KGB in 1941, code named “Argo”, but he never provided any valuable information and was abandoned by the Soviets by the end of the 1940’s.
In the 1950s, the Egyptian Secret Service had their spy in London buy all of the James Bond books so they could analyse British espionage methods believing it was based on reality. It’s not hard to believe since this was a time before the internet or modern television and the books were written by an ex intelligence officers.
14 squirrels were arrested by Iranian authorities for espionage. Officials said they succeeded in apprehending the suspects “before they were able to take any action”.
North Korean spies stationed abroad have to receive training on how to shop in supermarkets, use credit cards and visit clubs, as these amenities are not commonplace in North Korea.
Driving while drunk destroyed the Soviet spy network in the UK. After being arrested in London in 1971, Oleg Lyalin panicked and offered the names of every Russian spy. The UK government expelled 105 people from the country, and the USSR network in Britain “never recovered”.
A French man fell in love with someone he thought was a female Chinese opera singer, and had a decades-long affair that resulted in a child… only to discover that the whole time the singer had actually been male and a spy.
In 1997, four years before being arrested for spying for the KGB, Robert Hanssen was caught using a password cracker on a federal computer. When asked about this, he said that he was simply trying to install a color printer, and so he needed the administrator password. They believed him.