Pretexting After the HP Debacle

Strategies for Ensuring Above-Board Internal Investigations

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Course Materials


Hewlett-Packard's use of a controversial internal investigation tactic, known as “pretexting,” recently led to the resignation of its general counsel and to felony indictments against the former chairwoman, senior counsel and three outside HP consultants.

Pretexting in corporate investigations can trigger fraud and civil conspiracy litigation, as well as investigations and charges under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), among other laws.

The fallout from the HP debacle brings such investigative practices into question – can pretexting, which is not itself illegal (yet), be used legally and ethically?

This teleconference will discuss the legal and ethical issues arising from pretexting and other controversial investigation techniques; recent, relevant court and Federal Trade Commission actions; and strategies for minimizing criminal and civil exposure in internal investigations.



The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What are federal prosecutors' criminal allegations against HP
    investigators and officials?
  • Which federal and state laws must be considered in developing
    corporate investigations that include methods such as pretexting?
  • What are the potential ethical risks for attorneys who
    participating in corporate internal investigations?
  • What are the best practices for attorneys and corporate officials
    involved in corporate investigations?


Timothy P. Harkness
Timothy P. Harkness
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel

He is an experienced litigator with a background in white collar criminal litigation. He has conducted internal...  |  Read More

Agnes Bundy Scanlan
Agnes Bundy Scanlan
Goodwin Procter

He advises clients on a range of compliance management and privacy issues. She has been responsible for the creation,...  |  Read More

Michael L. Spafford
Michael L. Spafford
McKee Nelson

He focuses on white collar defense, internal investigations, and compliance with government enforcement initiatives. He...  |  Read More