I was a real-life James Bond with five fake IDs – no one knows my real name and manipulating terrorists is a fun game | The Sun

A FORMER spy has told how he spent years juggling fake identities to befriend terrorists and infiltrate the lives of his targets.

Jack Beaumont, 47, has revealed to The Sun the secrets of his former life as an agent – and his tried and tested recipe for manipulating anyone into doing what he wants.

Beaumont, a husband and dad-of-two in his real life, maintained five fake identities at a time.

He warned the reality of being a spy – and befriending "bad people" for a living – is more grim than James Bond makes it seem.

He said: “It becomes confusing in your soul. It becomes confusing on who you really are because, at the end of the day, you’re real yourself, with your real name, with your wife and your kids.

“At the end it becomes just a sixth additional ID, so the same way you play the actor game for the five false IDs, you end up playing the game the same way of being the father and the husband."

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Beaumont, whose real name is a secret, estimated 80 per cent of the people he spied on in his eight years of service were "bad people" including “terrorists” so he would often have to tap into the darker parts of himself to gain their trust.

His missions as an operative in the clandestine operations branch of the French foreign secret service, the DGSE, involved him uncovering people’s deepest secrets – from who they were sleeping with to their debts and money problems – unnoticed, “like a ghost”, sometimes by breaking into their homes.

Next, he would identify what they were motivated by so he could use it to manipulate them.

He explained every person had at least one weakness which could be used as leverage: money, ideology, coercion, or ego.

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The Company, or the DGSE, would then decide if the target was worth pursuing and, if they were, Beaumont would assume a false identity and enter their lives.

The French secret service operative would meet them by perceived happenstance at the gym, or in a university class, or on the golf course, or some other place he knew they would be.

He said: “Let’s say money is the leverage, during the approach… you develop a kind of money relationship and make this person dependent on you, money-wise, because you take this person to nice restaurants or nice nightclubs, or nice trips… or you do some nice presents, nice handbags, nice watches, whatever.

“And at some point I’m going to tell you ‘actually I’m not your friend. I’m not who I say I am.

"And what I want is this, and if you give it to me then you will have more money, and if you don’t give it to me… you will be in big trouble’.”

Each time a mission was accomplished or a person of interest was abandoned, Beaumont’s fake identity used to manipulate them would immediately be dismantled and a new one created.

The “gardening” work, as he called it, needed to maintain his identities was meticulous.

Each fake person needed to have an address and be known in their local community in case anyone came looking for them.

The former air force fighter pilot said: “You have to spend a lot of time having a coffee around the corner where you’re supposed to live with this identity, so that those persons know you under this identity.

“So if one day you are arrested in another country and they send someone over to check on you, those people will have a picture of you and will walk around the area where you’re supposed to live and will go to the coffee shop around the corner and say ‘do you know this person?’ and the owner of the coffee shop will go ‘oh yeah, I know him. His name is James and he’s a consultant’.

“And it might save your life.”

Over time, the "actor game" Beaumont had become so skilled at started eating away at him.

He said: “You have to befriend bad people, and befriend people you don’t like, and the only way you can do it is by pretending to be one of them.

“You have to force yourself to play the game, or become this bad person."

But he said the hardest part of the job was when he would have to manipulate and "blow up" the lives of good people.

Beaumont recalled one instance where he spent a year and a half getting to know “a really good person” under false pretences before he used their secrets against them.

He quit the DGSE in 2014 due to the toll his job took on his mental health – as well as on his family and social life – and now lives in Australia with his wife and kids.

He revealed what kept him in the industry for so long, despite its many dangers, was “clearly not the money” but a will to serve his country and be part of a world most people will never know.

The dad of two said: “I miss some parts of the job. I miss being a part of this very small club and world of espionage, I miss the thrill, the excitement.

“Because what you see in movies comes from somewhere, so it’s true sometimes that we are doing things that are really fun.

“I miss this, but I was becoming someone I didn’t like and that my wife didn’t like, so it was a good time for me to leave.

“I’m happy that I'm much nicer to my kids and that my kids can get to know my real me, get to know who I am. And I'm happy that I had this experience in my life, even if it was a traumatic experience.”

Since leaving the DGSE, Beaumont has thrown himself into his real roles of father and husband, also working in defence and as a fiction writer.

His first novel The Frenchman was published last year and is about an operative in the secretive Y Division of the DGSE.

The character’s marriage is under strain and he lives in fear people might come after his children.

He and the plot are based on the author and his lived experiences.

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Beaumont’s second novel Dark Arena follows the same characters in a different setting, with a different geopolitical context.

It will be released in January next year.

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