Extreme closeup of fingers holding a spy-sized camcorder lens.

Enlarge (credit: AntanO / Wikimedia)

It was almost like an episode of Spy vs. Spy—a security researcher conceals a camera on his person to record an undercover operative who, under false pretenses and with his own hidden camera, quizzes the researcher about work he did exposing an Israeli exploit seller with highly questionable ethics.

In fact, the counter-sting happened earlier this month, according to an article published Friday by the Associated Press. Researchers at Internet watchdog group Citizen Lab orchestrated the sting after they grew suspicious of a man calling himself Michael Lambert who contacted Citizen Lab researcher John Scott-Railton to request a lunch meeting at a swanky Toronto hotel. The suspicions were fueled by an earlier meeting in December, in which a man masquerading as a socially conscious investor named Gary Bowman grilled a different Citizen Lab researcher about work the watchdog did exposing NSO Group, the Israeli exploit seller.

Scott-Railton agreed to the Toronto meeting and was outfitted with a GoPro action camera and several recording devices. At the lunch, he spotted a tiny camera poking out from a pen Lambert had placed on the table. As the AP reports:

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