updated 9/14/2006 7:12:39 PM ET 2006-09-14T23:12:39

Investigators plan to search the Boston-area offices of a private investigation firm involved in the Hewlett-Packard Co. spying scandal, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer said Thursday.

Lockyer told The Associated Press that he is working with Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly in the investigation of Security Outsourcing Solutions, a small firm believed to have aided HP in its possibly illegal probe to root out media leaks in its ranks.

“He’s assisting in getting our search warrants served on that firm so that we can fully examine their records,” Lockyer said.

He said the firm’s Needham, Mass., offices will likely be searched early next week, but he has not decided whether the firm broke any laws.

“I would like to see the results of the search warrant before having a settled opinion on that,” Lockyer said.

HP has revealed that it hired contractors who impersonated HP directors, journalists and employees in order to get phone companies to turn over detailed logs of their home phone calls, a possibly illegal ruse known as “pretexting.”

Lockyer said the investigative firm was hired to conduct HP’s investigation to root out boardroom leaks to the media. He did not know whether it was hired directly by HP or was a subcontractor hired by another firm.

A spokeswoman for Reilly confirmed that he was assisting California in the Hewlett-Packard investigation. She declined to comment further.

Ronald DeLia, who is listed as the firm’s managing director, did not return calls for comment on Thursday.

On its Web site, the firm advertises itself as providing investigative services as well as computer and network security. It publishes a newsletter called “Corporate Homicide: Life in a Global Economy,” whose past issues include warnings about phone scams and legal news on identity fraud and other privacy cases.

HP revealed Wednesday that its investigation extended beyond board members and journalists to include two unidentified company employees. Lockyer said he doesn’t believe the scope of the pretexting extended any further than that.

While pretexting is not specifically banned by California law, Lockyer said this week he already has enough evidence to charge HP insiders and the private investigators with violating laws against identity theft and computer intrusion.

The FBI and U.S. Attorney for Northern California are also investigating. Their probe is focused on illegal computer intrusion and wiretapping, the bureau’s deputy director said.

Legal experts said the hired gumshoes who conducted the pretexting are the most likely targets for criminal charges. Others who could face charges include HP CEO Mark Hurd, embattled Chairwoman Patricia Dunn, who will step down in January because of the scandal, and HP’s general counsel Ann Baskins, whose legal department oversaw the leaks investigation.

Dunn has admitted authorizing the investigation into who leaked boardroom secrets to reporters. But she said she was appalled when she learned that investigators used Social Security Numbers and other personal information to obtain the phone logs.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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