Author Archive

How Well Do You Know Your Employees?

August 25th, 2015 Comments off

In the past few months, I’ve been assisting a client with a drug related investigation. If the initial homework had been done, the client would have made a very different decision at the time of hiring the subject of the investigation.

The client had completed a traditional background check that consisted of a criminal, financial and reference check. Then about a year after hiring this employee, some disturbing circumstances appeared relating to drugs and racist comments. Based on the current situation we advised the client that they should consider the following:

  • Investigative Research
  • Social Media Surveillance
  • Undercover and/or Surveillance

The client elected to conduct social media surveillance for a 30-day period. We identified approximately 150 keywords related to the client’s concerns and commenced harvesting data across the top most common platforms. We wanted to capture the last 100 posts per platform plus be alerted to any current activities. The employee was lax with privacy settings, so we were able to harvest a gold mine of information such as racist comments and posts showing drug use and risky life style choices. The client then elected to commence with a parking lot surveillance for phase two, as the data gathered indicated there was a strong likelihood that drug related activities were taking place on company property. The surveillance uncovered the use and sale of drugs by the employee and other coworkers. In addition, the employee was observed leaving the site in a company vehicle where other transactions took place in public locations with unidentified individuals.

Based on the information and evidence collected, the client had us contact and work with local law enforcement. The client’s goal was to terminate those involved in illegal activities. The decision was made to have police intervene on company property during a time when most activity took place. This proved to be very successful, as a large amount of marihuana was found and several arrests were made. The client had a clear policy on drug use, which allowed for termination of the individuals involved. The police also learned that the subject of the investigation had a grow op in his home.

The potential damage to the client’s reputation and brand could have been considerable. Concerns for workplace safety and violence could have developed had the problem continued.

During the follow up and de-briefing, the client indicated that they wanted to develop a program to mitigate future risks. After consulting with the client’s human resources and legal department, we developed a social media footprint search as part of their pre-employment screening process. Each new employee’s social media footprint is reviewed along with the last ten posts per platform are collected. This provides a recent snapshot of the potential employees’ lifestyle choices.

Since implementing the program a number of potential employees who would have met traditional requirements have been disqualified based on social media footprint results.

The cost of a bad hire can have extremely damaging results. Make sure you really know who you are hiring.



Preparing for the Risk

July 29th, 2015 Comments off

I recently worked on an interesting file regarding a potential threat of workplace violence. We were contacted regarding the termination of a male employee. This individual was in the middle of a nasty divorce and his work performance had declined considerably. There were concerns regarding his behaviour. The individual was becoming emotionally unstable and aggressive towards others. Management took these concerns seriously and attempted to provide support and assistance. Unfortunately this fell on deaf ears. A decision was made to exit the employee. I was contacted to develop a strategy to mitigate the risk should the termination not proceed in a positive manner. After gathering the background details the following recommendations were made:

  • Post termination security which would monitor the exterior access points

The concern was that the employee might attempt to access the facility or seek revenge against managers and coworkers outside of the workplace.

The client reviewed the options and arranged for a call to discuss them and make a final decision on a plan. The client elected to monitor social media for a period of 30 days and engage the recommended security components. They chose not to engage in surveillance unless there was an increase in risk. There was a concern that if the surveillance was detected it would lead to an increased likelihood of legal action. The client’s management team debated the risk posed versus the potential legal implications. These types of debates are common. The challenge is what happens if the employee elects to target coworkers and management and an incident occurred, would manage be found negligent based on the fact they had concerns but elected not to proceed. This is always a difficult question to answer.

We commenced with the plan. Our social monitoring uncovered some open source posts that raised some red flags.  Most of the posts touched on the employee’s troubles and how he felt wronged. The tone was of someone who could possibly lash out if a negative event should occur.

The termination proceeded as planned and the protection agent escorted the employee to his vehicle at which point he exited without issue, other then a heated verbal outburst directed at the human resources manager. The employee was told to not return to the facility or have any contact with the staff. Unfortunately two days after his termination, he returned. Security intervened and successfully de-escalated the situation. The employee claimed he had items he needed to return. This was despite the fact the client had provided instruction and prepaid courier pickup for the items belonging to the company. After the termination, outplacement and support services were present to ensure the employee had resources and a safety net.

No one knows what the employee’s intentions were the day when he was intercepted by security. Was this a man down on his luck only seeking to return the company’s belongings or did he have something very different on his mind.

Too many times in the recent past we have read about situations where things have gone horribly wrong.

Social media monitoring has been ongoing for this individual and although his posts were of concern, it appears the individual has come to grips with his situation for the time being. None of the posts warranted police involvement.

We advised the client to pay special attention to key dates, which may trigger future events. These dates include:

  • Date of hire
  • Date of termination
  • Birthdays

Workplace violence and managing terminations continues to be a challenge for security and human resources staff. Balancing the risk versus the probability of an incident is never easy. No employer wants to feel heavy handed and disrespectful but you also never want to be without a plan incase you need to respond to a risk.


When Pricing is Equal, What Separates Vendors?

June 10th, 2015 Comments off

Often pricing is relatively comparable when looking at vendors. How a vendor is able to respond and provide service is the only real difference.

Make certain you engage the vendor’s operations personnel at the onset. Also give them a few small test cases. Do they respond to your email or telephone calls in a timely manner? Do they make simple tasks more difficult? Can they use common sense? Some individuals come from environments that are extremely process driven and are unable to think outside the box. Failure is almost certain if you require services in a crisis and/or when your needs change on a case-to-case bases.

Having a military or police background does not always mean these individuals have the necessary skills to meet your expectations. Individuals who do not come from industries where customer service is important, often struggle. They often fail to communicate, provide updates and lack the ability to manage project budgets and seek the proper approvals should the scope of work expand. Anything can be solved by spending money foolishly. Can your vendor’s operations personnel manage your cost expectations? Receiving a bill that is 100% over budget is not the kind of surprise you need.

Also ensure operations personnel are clear on whether those supporting them are direct employees or subcontractors. All too often you find out your folks on the ground are dealing with a subcontractor, who in turn has subcontracted out the assignment.

Not only is it wise to meet the operations personnel but also at a minimum you should speak to the people providing support on the ground. By doing this, it will provide the only true sense of their skills, expertise and ability.

By taking time on the front end, you will save heartache and mistakes on the back end.


A Cry For Help!

April 8th, 2015 Comments off

As we try to understand what happened with the recent plane crash, it is becoming clearer as the investigation continues that the co-pilot was suffering from depression. He was struggling to cope and unfortunately elected to take his life along with 150 others. This tragedy is bound to bring about significant changes to the airline industry. Would monitoring this co-pilot’s previous social media activity provide early clues? Companies in all sectors are now conducting social media monitoring and digital surveillance on their employees. The findings are often quite shocking. Threats of violence, suicide, self-harm, and use of weapons as well as narcotics are often uncovered. We all need to think about our own workplaces and imagine the harm that could be done if an individual elects to take action. How many others could be harmed? What would be the trigger to cause a reaction? The big question is, who and how often should one be monitored? I think we will see employees in safety sensitive positions undergoing more aggressive monitoring. We almost always find out after the fact that all the signs were already there.


Start Your Engines

February 25th, 2015 Comments off

Formula 1 racing returns to Mexico with the next race set for November 2015. This event will attract many U.S., Canadian and Latin American fans. Many corporate sponsors will also have VIP and guests travelling to Mexico.

Mexico has recently faced a number of high profile, well-organized protests regarding the disappearance of 43 teachers. Will the protesters take this opportunity to bring attention to their cause? Recently Coca Cola had a facility targeted in Mexico. During the attack, firebombs were tossed and individuals kidnapped. Coca Cola is reported to be contemplating relocating operations to a safer area. These events are just two of the more recent high profile events.

As we know Mexico suffers from high crime rates and ranks as one of the most dangerous countries in the world. The disappearance of the teachers pointed to some other troubling discoveries. Local political leaders along with the police and cartels all had a hand in the disappearance.

The auto industry in Mexico is set to overtake Canada in the number of vehicles produced. If oil prices rebound and efforts continue to allow for foreign investment in the oil sector, more and more business travel to Mexico will occur.

What does all this mean for those in corporate security, human resources, corporate travel and event management?

You will require:

- To complete risk assessments to fully understand risks and challenges

- Intelligence gathering and monitoring

- Development of security plans for various levels of travellers

- Pre-trip security briefings

- To review medical plans

- To ensure crisis communication measures are in place

- Budgeting and recommendations for security coverage

- To work with vendors in country to coordinate efforts

Duty of Care obligations need to be communicated to all stakeholders to ensure all parties understand the risk and consequences. You may need to engage security drivers and vehicles for executives. For some groups, GPS tracking and panic devices should be considered to support those with a lower risk profile. VIP guests should be afforded additional security measures. Event based social media monitoring is also becoming a tool that many firms utilize prior to and during events. Threat risk assessments of hotels, event venues and routes will all become part of an overall plan.

The key is to have a plan. November is just around the corner and many firms have already commenced with plans. If you would like more information surrounding the upcoming Formula 1 race and security planning please email to arrange a time to speak with one of our risk mitigation specialists for Mexico.


Follow the Money!

February 25th, 2015 Comments off

The IMF will be hosting the 2015 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in Lima Peru on October 9 – 11, 2015. Senior executives from the banking and financial sectors, as well as governments will be attending from around the world. Activist groups have cast the IMF in a negative light. In many countries, austerity plans put in place by governments are viewed as the IMF’s way to control a country’s activities. As economic growth has stalled in many parts of the world, the average citizens have grown weary of the prospects of slow job growth and reductions in many services delivered by governments.

This no doubt will garner attention from social activists, as well as hard-core groups looking to bring attention to their cause. As witnessed during recent G8 and G20 gatherings, security challenges and logistics can be an enormous undertaking. Those attending will need to have contingencies in place for intelligence, security and medical response. With recent attacks in Canada, Australia and France, a greater emphasis on security will have to be considered.

Currently we have clients engaging us to provide a host of services for this upcoming event. At this time initial discussions are taking place surrounding threat risk assessments and advanced planning of security details, and security drivers and vehicles are being booked.

Firms are asking for more frequent briefings relative to the conditions within Peru. Event monitoring tools are being engaged. Information posted on social media platforms is often faster than traditional news sources. Locations can now be geo-fenced and critical information harvested to identify and monitor risk.

Needless to say, a combination of some or all of these measures may be considered to ensure your executives’ safety while attending.

If you would like to learn more, please email to book a time to speak with one of our Latin American risk mitigation specialists.

Jim Rovers



Where Do We Go From Here?

January 20th, 2015 Comments off

In recent days we have faced terrorist attacks in Europe. The US uncovered a plot to attack government offices in Washington. Raids in Belgium and German foiled attempts by extremists to attack police and civilians. Each day we read in the news about homegrown terrorists or individuals that have been radicalized.

These events are no longer isolated incidents. We all need to increase our level of security awareness. Corporations need to ensure employees report suspicious activities and have a process in place to evaluate. Business travellers might find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. We need to train them on how to deal with and respond to potential attacks and hostage situations. For those responsible for executive security, ensuring your team has the resources and training will become increasingly important. Not only do we need to focus on travel but also it is important that event planners ensure that security measures are in place at venues. Keep in mind that many venues offer security support. In some cases it is handled very professionally and in others it is not. Ensure you fully understand what you are getting.

Recently I spoke to two clients that had tabled active shooter training in the past 12 months. In both cases, human resources overruled security, as they did not want employees to feel startled. Due to recent events and employees questioning security about why nothing was being done to prepare employees, the decision was overturned and the employees are now receiving active shooter and security awareness training. We need to stop worrying about scaring employees and focus more on today’s reality. This does not mean training needs to be over the top. Finding a balance is key.

Decision-making around security expenditures needs to be taken out of the hands of finance. This does not mean there is no level of accountability. All too often a recommendation reaches finance and without discussion, the budget proposed is dramatically reduced. I recently completed an audit and one of the recommendations was for perimeter fencing. When the proposal was reviewed it was decided to cut the budget in half, which allowed for fencing on only 2 sides of the property leaving the other 2 sides exposed. Those with ill intentions only had to walk around the fence. Why have any fence at all. This is a simple example that displays a lack of understanding. The good news in the end was a member of the executive team elected to take security’s recommendation.

We are now all potential targets of extremists at home and at work. Having a well-resourced plan and ensuring we all become more aware is key to our future security.


Cargo Theft Stats Are Seeing More Driver Involvement?

November 27th, 2014 Comments off

Cargo theft continues to be a growing problem. Some recent stats point to increased driver involvement in cargo crimes.

A new white paper from the logistics security services provider FreightWatch International reported last year truck cargo theft activity spiked in the final quarter of the year, with a total of 242 reported incidents. It detailed that driver theft reached an all high in 2013; increasing 76% over 2012 and a whopping 389% jump over 2011.

Monitoring a driver’s social media footprint may provide information and clues when investigating drivers who might be under the suspicion of being involved in losses.

Tools have been designed to harvest open source social media data in an automated way and provide alerts and reports of suspicious activities.

We have found that almost all stolen items make their way back onto the market. Individuals involved will often use social media as a means to sell items quickly.

Not only can drivers be targeted, you can also monitor individuals and groups who also might be involved. The cost to monitor can be as low as $500 dollars for a 30-day period. Most people I speak with simply don’t have the time to continuously monitor activities on social media.

The good news is you no longer have to spend countless hours being a cyber sleuth. To learn more about our digital surveillance products, please feel free to reach me at


Would You Love to Predict Events Before They Happen?

November 21st, 2014 Comments off

The term “big data” is everywhere today. Almost everything we do can be captured in some way, shape or form. Retailers can now determine when a woman is pregnant by using big data. And what does all this mean to security, investigative and human resource professionals? Through the use of open source web and social media data, we are able to identify potential risks and threats. Imagine if you were able to predict if workplace violence is likely to occur. Past violent or aggressive behaviour is a predictor of future behaviour. Using digital surveillance, you are able to monitor a person’s behaviour. In the past, we had to wait to see if an event would occur and later read about it in the news that the individual had posted information online that indicated a strong possibility of violent behaviour. Threats, photos of weapons and rants about injustice are quite typical. I recently worked with a client that had experienced a significant increase in workers’ compensation claims. The client was uneasy about traditional surveillance as a first step. We selected two test cases. In the first case, not much was found. In the second, we hit the jackpot. The individual in question was deemed totally disabled. By harvesting social media data and using key words, we determined that he had left the country via Toronto Pearson Airport and had flown to New York. While in New York, numerous photos and information were posted about the individual’s vacation. In one instance, he described climbing a fire escape in great detail. Needless to say, the Human Resources team was able to use the information in dealing with this person.

As an investigator, imagine if you could capture and understand when your stores are being targeted and by whom. Rather then spending money on loss prevention resources during times of low likelihood of a crime, you could now target peak hours.

Law enforcement groups have commented that they need to do more with the web and social media. Attacks on police in New York, as wells as the soldiers in Canada have all revealed that the violent indicators were present prior to the actual crimes.

Harvesting data from the web and digital surveillance are becoming an important tool. The key is to be able to harvest data in an automated way and receive the data so it can be understood. Drinking from a fire hose tends to be difficult.

The good news is now you can. If you wish to learn more, please send me an email


The Day We Lost Our Innocence

October 29th, 2014 Comments off

Last week Canadians lost their innocence.  The country has always prided itself as a safe country and a melting pot of many cultures. The loss of two soldiers on Canadian soil in separate attacks has caused many Canadians to wonder if their country has changed. To make matters worse, the second attack was at the parliament buildings. The police and other law enforcement agencies responded and eliminated the risk before more people were harmed.

The nation now mourns the loss of two heroes and begins the process of trying to understand what took place. I work in the security industry and noticed a real shift. When 9-11 occurred there were adjustments made in how security was handled. These types of incidents typically happen in the United States, not in Canada. We have learned that we are not immune.  What will happen next? Are these events isolated or is this the beginning of a trend? Incidents of workplace violence have been increasing. Terrorism is now a very real threat. Each citizen now understands that they could also be a target. I think all citizens also realize they need to have more security awareness. The parliament buildings will undergo a review of security practices to ensure appropriate measures are in place to deal with these new possible threats.  The police and lawmakers will begin the process of reviewing our current laws and procedures and no doubt will make adjustments. Businesses will also adjust. In the last few days, I have fielded numerous calls regarding camera systems and access controls. In a few instances, we have seen clients move from concierge style security to a more robust security posture at main access points. The requests for digital surveillance and social media monitoring have also increased.  This time something feels different. Those reaching out sound more like individuals I typically speak to regarding Mexico or Latin America.  Incidents last week may have changed Canada forever. Although Canadians are viewed as friendly, passive people to the rest of the world, when attacked our resolve hardens. Military battles from both World War I and II have shown that when poked, the sleepy and peaceful people of Canada rise up to meet the challenge. For those who have lost their lives, the nation weeps. For those left behind, we now move on with a different view and feeling.

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