Credit: David M. Russell via CBS

The FBI are secretive by nature, this is why they’re so good at their job! Sure, we’ve all watched Criminal Minds and FBI: Most Wanted, but how true is the stuff we’re seeing on TV and how much do we actually know about what goes on over there in Quantico? Well, as it turns out, not a lot… So, without further ado, here’s some stuff the FBI doesn’t want us to know.

1. FBI files are free & accessible for anyone to read

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You can thank the Freedom of Information act for this one. Through accessing the vault you will have access to more than 6,700 documents which contain details of FBI investigations into some of the most famous celebrities including Marilyn Monroe and Steve Jobs. If you’re one of those true crime fans, this is the ultimate way to scratch that itch, and who knows? You might even solve a case…

2. They spent ten years looking for Dorothy’s slippers

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After Judy Garland’s ruby slippers she wore during the filming of The Wizard of Oz were stolen in 2005, the FBI decided they should proceed with a decade-long investigation into their theft. Well, it worked as after they performed a sting operation they finally found the missing slippers. The slippers are now displayed in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

3. Walt Disney was a secret informant for the FBI

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The New York Times reported that Walt Disney was an informant for the FBI for quite some time. Over twenty years, Disney reported many of his Hollywood counterparts for “un-American activities”, which were essentially people he suspected of being communists. Maybe he even got Mickey to help him out and spy on people too.

4. The ‘Most Wanted’ list is chosen based on looks

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No, it’s not based on who is the hottest. The FBI’s notorious Most Wanted list, established in 1950, releases the identity of criminals wanted for heinous crimes. However, the criteria for making the list is not what you’d expect. Often, easily identifiable and dangerous criminals are chosen so that members of the public don’t end up accidentally identifying the wrong person.

5. The FBI actually spent time tracking Bigfoot

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If the FBI spent time and money tracking this thing, surely there must be some evidence that it exists? If you want to check this one out yourself, you can using the FBI’s vault. Apparently there’s actually a file on Bigfoot! Information from the FBI can only be released after deaths so if they did find the big guy, we can assume that he’s no longer with us.

6. Ronald Raegan also had a secret alliance with the FBI

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It may come as no surprise that one of the US president’s had a bond with the FBI. However, Reagan actually had a secret alliance. While president of the Screen Actors Guild in 1947, he became more commonly known to the FBI as “Source T-10”, or just T-10, the agent who reported on actors he believed to be Communist sympathizers.

7. Your fingerprints are probably held on file in West Virginia

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You’re probably freaking out and thinking that you’ve never even been arrested. Well, it doesn’t actually matter. If you’ve ever had your fingerprints taken at all for getting a driving license or buying a firearm, chances are that the FBI have this on file in West Virginia on their Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System.

8. Taking drugs doesn’t disqualify you from the FBI


This one probably comes as a huge relief to people who partied a little too hard in college but still want a career in the FBI. As long as you are upfront and honest about your drug use in the past (because they will find out sooner or later from a hair test) and you don’t have any recent drug problems, this shouldn’t disqualify you. You will have to be drug-clean for three years before being considered, though.

9. John Lennon was once a person of interest

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Not everyone knows about John Lennon’s arousal of FBI investigators back in the 70s. As it turns out, he was actually placed under surveillance by the FBI. The reason? He was writing a lot of anti-war songs during the time, including Give Peace a Chance, it seems like he was more of a hippy rather than a danger to the country, though!

10. Lennon wasn’t the only celeb to be put under surveillance

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Mr. Elvis Presley ruffled some feathers in the US when he shot to stardom, or more specifically, his hips did. Any celebrity that you can think of that made it big time in the US but had a bit of a troublesome reputation, will have a FBI file. For example, Michael Jackson, Charlie Chaplin and Frank Sinatra all had files.

10. The FBI have erected fake cell phone towers to steal your data

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This is one that the FBI definitely have tried to keep this under wraps, but, rumors are that it’s true. The FBI created a secretive new device known as Stingray. Posing as fake cell phone towers, they lock onto devices within a specific area and harvest data. It’s been coined as an ‘unconstitutional, all you can eat data buffet.’ The FBI have done all that they can in keeping this technology a secret.

11. The FBI will track your location without a warrant

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This one sounds kind of scary, especially if you’re someone who has a fear of being watched, but, it really is true. in 2011, The Bureau lost a Supreme Court case after it was revealed that they had tracked suspects’ location 1.3 million times unlawfully. Of course, they’re not going to ask a most-wanted criminal if they can put a tracker in their phone, but significant evidence must be present before the FBI can track you.

12. FBI case files were paper-based until 2012

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You’d expect that the FBI would utilise a sophisticated and complex array of technology to help them in their criminal endeavours. Well, actually, they remained paper based all the way up to 2012. After a failed $425 million electronic system was introduced in 2009, they eventually got it to work in 2012 ($26 million later).

13. They’re aware of highly trained Iranian military dolphins


No, it’s not a joke. Dolphins are usually a lot of fun at the aquarium, but Iran are using these clever creatures for something totally different. The dolphins were trained in Russia and nobody knows if they’re alive or not given this was twenty years ago. Apparently, they were trained to attack enemy ships by the Soviet Union.

14. But, apparently they were moved to an aquarium

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Apparently, this bizarre military operation ran out of funding pretty quickly and the dolphins were moved to an aquarium. Hopefully they were able to live out the rest of their lives peacefully playing in the pool because the other stuff sounds pretty traumatic.

15. The Pentagon has a UFO program

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Ah, The Pentagon, the hotspot for conspiracy theories. Well, here’s one that isn’t even a theory. While not directly associated with the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, information is often passed between these types of institutions and the FBI. Although it stopped receiving funding in 2012, it’s widely believed that the program lives on.

16. UFO videos were meant to be kept secret

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We’ve all see the X-Files, so the FBI’s engagement with aliens shouldn’t come as a surprise to you! The US government have openly spoken about how at least three videos reporting UFO activity weren’t meant to be seen by the public. Seems like a pretty big security breach.

17. UFO reports swept the US in 1947

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Aliens must have been visiting left, right and centre at this time because more than one sighting of unexplained flying objects was reported in America in 1947. The FBI received many reports, alongside the U.S. Air Force that was leading investigations into the sightings. The Air Force had been newly formed at this time.

18. The FBI don’t trust banking apps

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Have you ever bought something really expensive and then gone to check your banking app, only to find that you had less money thank you started with? What’s that all about? Seriously though, While most credit cards have fraud protection, your checking and savings account don’t have as much. Because of this, some FBI workers are actually deterred away from using banking apps on their phone.

19. They spent a whole year investigating one song

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Okay, so we know that the FBI likes to keep tabs on the music industry for some reason, but a whole year for one sing? The song Louie Louie was written in 1955 by Richard Berry and later made popular by band The Kingsmen. The song was investigated to see if the lyrics were appropriate, but it turns out that they are actually unintelligible. Glad we got that straightened out.

20. They don’t get along with the CIA

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For many people, the CIA and the FBI are fairly synonymous, they’re just two secretive organizations that use abbreviations for everything so we can’t understand what they’re saying, right? Well, after 9/11 the two don’t really get along anymore. There seems to have been a lack of communication between the two on this huge case and it seems that it has led to a mutual distrust and both thinking that the other hasn’t shared everything they know.

21. They wasted 3 years investigating extra-sensory perception

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ESP, or extra-sensory perception, is described as a perception of information beyond the scope of our five senses and knowledge. They were concerned that ESP could be used in the event of international spying, but eventually concluded (after a lot of money) that there wasn’t scientific support for their concerns.

22. They know when you’re lying

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Despite it not being enough to convict you, the FBI are exceptionally good at spotting liars. This is without the use of a lie detector machine, but comes more down to analyzing your speech and body language while in an interview with investigators. If you’re sweating when talking to an FBI agent, you should be.

23. But not when their own are lying…

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Who is better at lying than an FBI agent who is trained in how to spot a liar? Field agent Terry Albury was discovered to have been betraying the FBI for a number of years. He spilled secrets to The Intercept, which describes itself as adversarial journalism. Despite his defense that he was trying to do the right thing, he landed himself in jail for putting the country at risk.

24. The CIA rival the FBI with their technological advancements

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While the two don’t really work together as much as you would think, they are both working towards to the same goal of national security. Both use high tech gadgets to keep us safe, but the CIA has a really cool one. Sounding like something taken directly from a James Bond film, the CIA have actually created a drone-like dragonfly coined the “insectothopter.”

25. Their rivals have a top-secret robotic catfish

Credit: IEEE Spectrum

Not so top-secret now, is it? This sneaky little guy is called Charlie and was invented by the CIA in the 90s to see if they could invent an underwater intelligence vehicle. Whilst a fair bit of money was put into this, no one knows if it was successful or if Charlie ever made it into the field.

26. They don’t escape the law

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Despite what you might think, FBI agents are just like all other US citizens, in that, if they commit a crime, they will be prosecuted for it. Throughout recent years, several FBI agents have lost their jobs and faced jailtime for commiting crimes whilst abroad and employed by the Bureau. Bet they were popular in prison….

27. FBI agents do get up to no good

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Namely, these agents had been up getting up to no good with some call girls whilst on holiday. When this came out, the agents subsequently lost their jobs and were prosecuted. An FBI representative described it as, ‘an avoidable embarrassment’ not only to the Federal Bureau but to the US government. Yeah, not one of their best moments…

28. They ask that you lie to kiosk workers

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Have you ever just tried to buy something at a store and end up having to give the person behind the counter your life story? Well, if you work for the FBI, you will be expected to lie about this information. This is because, as an FBI agent, your personal details, such as address and phone number, are sensitive material that could be used for wrongdoing if they landed in the wrong hands.

29. They’re pros at negotiating

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A former FBI negotiator, Chris Voss, told CNBC the number one secret when it comes to negotiating your way through a deal; there’s power in patience. He explained that you have to let the other person talk first, just to make them feel in control of the situation.

30. Voss let some other secrets slip…

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Other tips from the former FBI hostage negotiator include being genuinely interested in what the other party is looking for, negotiate on good faith, always take emotions into account, concentrate on empathy with a tactical edge and work to deactivate any negative feelings.

31. The FBI have a hazardous devices school

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That sounds a lot more dangerous than a regular high school…To keep up with the rise of improvised explosive devices in the US, the FBI implemented the Hazardous Devices School in order to train bomb squad officers. Based in a remote area of Alabama, it’s actually close by to another facility, the Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center.

32. The FBI need you to change your passwords every month

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And no, not to ‘password123’. The FBI have outwardly spoken in the past about their distrust of weak passwords, often advising to change your password at least once every month. While this may seem excessive, it would make sense that the FBI would know exactly how easy it is to hack into someone’s account and maybe they want to give themselves a challenge…

33. They advise not to show your driver’s license

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Unless it’s absolutely necessary, the FBI warn against showing people your driver’s license. If you’re asked for ID at an appointment or meeting, make sure to show something with less information on, like your office building badge. This way, they can’t read your birthday and address.

34. They advise that you have at least two email addresses

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You know how annoying junk email can be! The FBI suggests that, to tackle this, you should create an email address that you use for stupid promotional stuff, and one that you use for actual important stuff. Wise words from The Bureau. This way, you are also less likely to get hacked if a company is involved in a data breach.

35. They installed over 7,000 national security surveillance devices

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The FBI’s surveillance practices don’t just include wanted criminals or persons of interest; they include domestic surveillance too. In 1985, there was a wiretapping and civil liberties report, where Congress found that over 7,000 national security surveillance devices had been installed, including in the homes of American citizens, between 1940 and 1960.

36. They aren’t against impersonating the press


The red carpet is the last place you’d expect to see an undercover agent. However, An agent for the FBI impersonated an Associated Press journalist back in 2007. He then infected the computer of a suspect, and the AP then demanded the FBI don’t ever impersonate a member of the news media again. The court ruled in favor of the news outlet against the FBI.

37. You can access your own file

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Ever wanted to know if the FBI has anything on you? Like that time you illegally downloaded a Jonas Brothers song onto your iPod? You can find out by requesting to access your own file. Hopefully, they won’t have anything on you but, if they do, at least you’ll know to watch your back…

38. The FBI Director has term limits

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The first director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, served for nearly 50 years and was around when The Bureau was first established. Although this was an impressive career, Congress set a term limit on the position meaning that someone can only serve for a maximum of ten years and may only take the position once in their lifetime.

39. One director only served for a day…

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After Hoover died, the show had to go on…Whilst The Bureau was finding someone to fill Hoover’s shoes, Clyde Tolson was asked to step-in. This didn’t last long, and Tolson only served as Director of The FBI for one day.

40. Their rivals have a private Starbucks

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If you worked for the FBI, you’d probably be pretty peeved about this too. Whilst the FBI agents have to stick to regular old instant coffee, the CIA headquarters in Virginia houses one of the busiest Starbucks in the country. However, this is one Starbucks where they won’t ask for your name for the cup…