Is This How the Tabloids Get That Juicy Gossip?

From TIME Notebook: A couple is indicted for illegally obtaining confidential data on celebrities.

  • Until a Colorado grand jury indicted them for racketeering, James and Regina Rapp ran a $1.5 million-a-year business dredging up and selling confidential data on celebrities. Bruce Willis, Calista Flockhart, John and Patsy Ramsey and even the Columbine victims were marks for the couple's Touch Tone Information Acquisition, based in suburban Denver.

    The Rapps, according to authorities, assumed a variety of false identities to filch bank, phone, credit-card and stock-transaction records. Now investigators are seeking to zero in on the end users of the information, who are believed to be news media, prominent among them the Globe and the National Enquirer, as well as banks, insurance companies and collection agencies. "The Rapps were passing on tons of stuff on any big names in the news," says Robert Brown, an agent for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. "The big question is, Did those who wanted the information know how Touch Tone was getting it?" Deputy District Attorney Dennis Hall of Jefferson County has little doubt: "It's like buying stolen property and getting it on the cheap. It's hard to believe that they didn't know it was obtained illegally."