An insidious modern spy must be a combination of broadband surfer and vintage gumshoe.
It all began with an anonymous phone call.
"Are you Phil Trupp?" The caller spoke in a hushed voice.
"Yes, who are you?
"Can't give you my name. Not yet. But wait—don't hang up. I'm with a group of brokers, and we want to thank you for all you're doing."
What I was doing was churning out headline stories for Harry's web site. Harry was posting them and urging me on. Thankfully, the stories were attracting attention. E-mails were coming in from all around the country, along with a great many phone calls from ARS victims.
I asked who the caller worked for and wondered why he was speaking like a man who had someone on his tail. I let him know, gently, that I wasn't fond of anonymous telephone calls.
"I work at Raymond James," said the caller, referring to Raymond James Financial, Inc., headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida. "We're hoping you can help us. We've got big trouble with auction rates."
Nothing new there, I figured. Yet the urgency in the caller's voice was intriguing. Maybe this was a new angle, a new twist to the story.
"We feel we can trust you, which is why I'm taking this chance," the caller said. "We have some unpleasant truths you might be interested in."
I was skeptical. Was this no-name disembodied voice trying to pull a fast one? In 2009, Raymond James was named best full-service broker for the second year in a row by ...