Of all the EVE Online stories I've heard over the years, none have impressed and inspired me as much as those detailing a well-planned corporate heist. These aren't your run-of-the-mill contract scammers or corp hanger thieves. A professional corporate spy can earn the deepest levels of trust, destroy a corporation from the inside out, rob its members of their most prized possessions and then disappear without a trace. They're the people that pull the strings of war in the background, pitting alliances against each other to meet their own ends. The Guiding Hand Social Club's famous 2005 heist remains to this day possibly the single most impressive story in EVE history and serves as a benchmark of value and style for a heist that has seldom since been matched.
When I'm not busy writing about EVE or running sleeper anomalies with my buddies, I find myself delving more and more into the dark side of EVE. From wormhole piracy and courier contract theft to full-blown corporate infiltration, this year has bestowed on me a great deal of experience in the dirty underworld of EVE. In this article, I explain how to infiltrate a corp successfully and capitalise on the opportunities it throws at you.
Picking a target:
Infiltration is not a task for the impatient. Every step of the dirty deed has to be planned with precision to ensure it goes off without a hitch. The first and arguably most important step in the process is selecting an appropriate target. Choosing a target corp that's too smart may result in a failed infiltration and a lot of wasted effort. On the other hand, an easy target may not have much worth stealing. Prime targets for conquest are those that have assets you've seen first hand and want to steal or ransom them over. That arrogant player chatting about his tech 2 blueprint collection or the freighter full of minerals you've scanned visiting Jita every week like clockwork, both are valuable targets just waiting to be plundered.
Another important concern when picking a target will be the difficulty in getting what you want from the corp. If all you're after is the contents of the corp's weekly freighter haul, you can join the corp and kill it at the first opportunity. Since you're in the same corp as the victim, CONCORD doesn't interfere and you can kill something as big as a freighter with something as small as a cruiser. For more complex heists, you might require access to corp hangers, mobile labs or even directorship in the corp you intend to rip off. The difficulty and length of time it will take to obtain those will factor into your decision about whether that prize is worth the effort.
Inserting the vector:
Once you've selected a target, you'll need a character to act as the spy - the vector. If you're creating a new character for this purpose, be aware that you may have trouble inserting him into target corps as many don't accept new players. Remember that new players frequently ask questions about skills and what they should train for. Even if you don't intend to train skills on the spy, it's important that you have a made-up plan in your head. This will let you chat to your corp-mates about skills you're training and will help you fool them by giving the impression of skill training progress. Study the kinds of questions new players ask in the rookie help channel to get some ideas on how to act like a new player. To really pull off an infiltration, you have to become this new persona right up until the moment of the heist. It's often helpful to insert multiple vectors into the target corp for a co-ordinated strike.
Perhaps more important than creating a virtual character in your head is to create an entire virtual person behind it. Pick a false name and a town, invent new hobbies and interests to talk about or even make up a job. Just learning off a few key facts about this made-up persona, his home town and his life can be enough to give your vector a comfortingly real and disarming quality. The next step is to get them into your target corp. Insertion is the point at which most infiltrations fail but since you can just keep picking another target and trying again, you'll eventually get into a corp. Remember that corps which advertise for recruitment will typically have measures in place to prevent new corp members from doing damage to the corp while those that don't will be more difficult to get into. A silver tongue and a little social engineering skill goes a long way here.
Read on to page 2, where I talk about planning your dirty deeds and executing the plan with a dash of style and a devastating professionalism.