Archive for the ‘Protective Services and Investigations’ Category

Is He Dead?

January 22nd, 2016 Comments off

Ghost the Albino Cory Cat fish, right, with his pal Felix the Apple Snail, left.

At home, we have a 100-gallon fish tank that has a mixture of community fish, which are fish that tend to all get along with each other, minus the odd bad apple or bully. One day, my wife noticed our Albino Cory Cat fish (Ghost) was acting lifeless and was getting consumed by our apple snail, Felix. Yes, most of our fish have been given names.

Turns out, Felix wasn’t eating Ghost; he was letting Felix clean algae off of him. We started paying attention to the duo and realized that they had struck up some sort of friendship and were hanging around each other fairly often. Even when Felix is dormant in his shell, Ghost spends much of his time at his side waiting for him to emerge.

Years ago, AFIMAC was contacted by Stephen Barth with Hospitality Lawyer about attending a conference they were hosting. We accepted the invitation. Since then, we’ve attended each year; so essentially, we’ve been swimming around the same tank for years.

Just before the end of 2015, we decided to get on a call to better understand each other’s organizations and realized that we had more in common than we knew. Although we are very different businesses, there are opportunities to work with each other for various initiatives.

We are becoming fast friends, so look for more in the coming months related to our evolving partnership.

The Importance of Screening

December 23rd, 2015 Comments off


I believe that there are three options when it comes to pre-employment background screening relating to social media content, a potential candidate’s organizational fit, and legitimacy of their resume.

1.  You can go with your gut, and not conduct any meaningful background screening

a.       Gone are the days that anyone should put any real  stock in personal reference
b.       Not checking into educational claims
c.       Not checking a candidate’s social media activity

2.  Conduct a full background check

a.      Verify past employment and education
b.      Check past employer references
c.      Conduct a social media search


3.      Wait for the potential employee to send you unsavory text messages that give you an indication of future behaviour. Like this job seeker did, by sending naked selfies to the HR Director prior to beginning employment

a.      Like this job seeker did, by sending naked selfies to the HR Director prior to beginning employment


Okay, the third isn’t really an option I believe in, but it is a good example of why screening is essential.





Rob Shuster, AFIMAC VP on WTAP NEWS – Active Shooter Critical Moments

December 14th, 2015 Comments off

WTAP NEWS – Active Shooter Critical Moments


Rob Shuster of AFIMAC discusses active shooter incidents with WTAP NEWS.



Shootings in businesses and public offices are nothing new.

But in the past, they’ve been motivated by people with largely personal issues.

Because of that, companies have surfaced to help employees take a pro–‐active stance to deal with them.

“People can, out of panic and out of fear, do things you wouldn’t expect them to do,” says Ron Shuster, Vice–‐President for training, AFIMAC “They’ll freeze; they’ll take things out with them, some of them will understand that priority one is to evacuate; some of them will not. Some of them will do things that will make things more difficult for the responding police officers,  and they have to be schooled not to do those things.”

AFIMAC provides active shooter training for businesses and similar organizations. Another company, Dark Angel Medical, helps responders prepare for those incidents.

But one of its officials says fighting back is one way not to deal with a mass gunman.

“Police are going to be coming, and I’m not going to be running out of the store with my gun out, because they’ll think I’m the bad guy,” says Dark Angel co–‐founder Lynn Davis. “I’m going to be trying to move away from the dangerous situation, and my main mission is to protect my husband and my child.”

Both companies say due to events of the past month, active shooter training may be evolving.

“I suspect that will happen, given Paris,” Shuster says. “I think it’s ridiculous to assume that won’t happen here. But it did happen in Paris.” AFIMAC was started in the 1980s by former Washington County commissioner James Vuksic.

Dark Angel plans a training exercise next June in Reno, Ohio, just outside Marietta.


Article in Latin Trade: ‘Security is 90 Percent Prevention’ by Adrian Vergel

December 8th, 2015 Comments off


Security is 90 Percent Prevention

December 2, 2015

By: Adrian Vergel

According to global forecasters, demand for travel risk management services in Latin America is on the rise. It’s difficult to gauge from the data, however, whether traveling abroad has become more or less hazardous. In some reports, much of South America has become safer for travelers. Others note that recovery in Latin America will be a key factor for growth in Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, reflecting a strong demand for travel.baggage-hall-775540_960_720 (1)

Can these upbeat predictions be trusted? In many Latin American countries, freedom of the press is rare, and governments control what statistics are released and in what manner, which significantly affects the perception of violence. With little confidence in the judicial process, and unchecked corruption, the majority of victims do not report crimes, fearing retaliation by criminals who may bribe or make payments to judges or police to secure release or reduced prison sentences.

Internal or contract security service providers are critical to the protection of business personnel through security training and awareness. Most people think of security as bodyguards and martial arts experts who know how to shoot a gun. That’s all true and very important. But security professionals never want to get to the point where they have to show their skills.

One such provider, AFIMAC, believes that 90 percent of mitigating the risk of international travel is prevention, five percent is reaction, and five percent is bad luck—being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Clearly, the majority of the responsibility of any security travel program must be prevention, knowing the profile of corporate travelers, their medical conditions, and detailed itinerary, including hotel and business meeting locations.

The way victims react can affect the outcome of even seemingly mundane car accidents. At a minimum, corporate travelers should be given a personal security awareness or travel security briefing to elevate their security consciousness when abroad.

The contents of such briefings should give the traveler a good overview of his or her destination and itinerary as well as tips on how to keep a low profile while in the locale. The purpose of the briefing should focus on how to determine the risks, increases personal awareness, and reduce the chances of being selected as a target.

The goal in all cases is prevention—having a personal plan for acting in a way that prevents an attack from happening. Prevention means having a plan for safeguarding valuables, selecting streets safe for travel, walking with confidence and awareness of persons who might be following, knowing where to park and being conscious of persons lingering near the car, and avoiding the use of ATMs. The goal is to teach the corporate traveler how to detect and deter becoming a criminal target.

One way to bring home these concepts is to step into the shoes of the criminal. As a rule, criminals do not want to be exposed; they always select a victim before an attack, opting for the easiest victim that offers the greatest reward with the least amount of risk. They can take time to select their targets, identify a specific victim, evaluate the individual looking for an opportunity to attack, plan the attack by looking for times, places, and methods where the person is vulnerable, and finally springing into action. At this point, the victim no longer has the possibility of prevention. If the target is something of sentimental value, the traveling employee may hesitate when confronted with a .38 revolver, leading the perpetrator to feel challenged or not in control—then shots are fired. The best advice? Employees should not take anything into a country that they are not willing to lose.

To counter kidnappings, for example, the latest GPS solutions are often used in company vehicles. But if the victim is separated from the vehicle, the positioning information is useless. A more effective solution is smartphone GPS technology, such as AFIMAC’s MyTrac, which constantly relays GPS location information to an online platform. In this way, an organization can track travelers as they board their flight, check in at a local hotel, and proceed from meeting to meeting. In a typical kidnapping, the criminals often make their first call from the victim’s phone, hoping the family will pick up so they can make demands. With MyTrac, the phone’s GPS can pinpoint the exact location of that call. Coupled with Crisis Assistance Plus, a travel assistance membership, immediate help can be provided to a distressed employee.

Traveling employees can internalize the concept of prevention in two ways: the wrong way—assume that nothing is going to happen and allow it to occur; or the right way—act in a manner that prevents an attack from happening in the first place. The prevention part of security may seem like minutia, but it is vital when protecting corporate employees traveling for business in Latin America.

Adrian Vergel is chief operations officer for AFIMAC’s Latin American region. His special expertise includes knowledge of North and South America, which he acquired while directing and managing security operations for multi-national Fortune 500 corporations throughout the region. He is an accomplished instructor in counter-surveillance, evasive/defense driving techniques, and executive protection operations. A former U.S. Marine, he served on the Presidential Helicopter Squadron where he worked closely with the U.S. Secret Service regarding all matters of security. His military training and experience includes personnel management, training skills, and a broad security background. Vergel is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) and ASIS International. He may be reached

AFIMAC Global is a leader in the provision of comprehensive corporate security and contingency planning services throughout the world, with a focus on North and South America. Its diverse capabilities include executive protection, labor dispute planning & response, cargo security & escorts, disaster & emergency response, corporate investigations, workplace violence assessment & response. With a distinguished management team and highly skilled personnel, AFIMAC Global is well known for its high quality service delivery and immediate responsiveness.

Death Threats

August 21st, 2015 Comments off

I’m always amazed at what some people share on their social media profiles, although I’m becoming less and less surprised. I just read on CBCNews that LA gangs are using the trending hashtag ‘#100days100nights’ to threaten each other over social media. Apparently it’s a contest between two rival gangs; who can kill 100 people first, and of course innocents are being caught in the crossfire.

Maybe it’s a hoax that someone hidden behind their social media profile started, but regardless, several others have latched on to it.  Simply scroll through the hashtag results and look at the language being used, the images posted, and what people are sharing with the online world. Viewer discretion advised.

If people aren’t afraid to post death threats, imagine what other things are being posted.

Completely unrelated to the LA gang issue, I checked some random tweeter feeds to see what I could find, here are some examples:

  • “Can’t wait to put in my two weeks notice”
  • “I can’t go back to work. Didn’t stop drinking until 6 in the morning. Slept for 4 hours drank a few now back at it tonight!!”
  • “Boss asked me how I was feeling. Oh yeah, forgot I called in sick when I was really at the beach lol”
  • “Who adds food to their order at the pay window!? Spit in food”

He Took My Belt

July 20th, 2015 Comments off


Several months ago, after watching an episode of Dragon’s Den, I contacted the owners of StashBelt to see if there were any opportunities for our two companies to work together. After a couple emails and phone conversations, we agreed that there definitely were.

At our first face-to-face meeting, Jonah Brotman, one of StashBelt’s co-founders was kind enough to bring me a gift; a Stashbelt.

After jointly agreeing to continue our talks on a partnership, I decided to wear the belt and get a feel for it. I stashed some money and a USB stick in the hidden compartments. No one suspected anything; it was like wearing a regular belt, and it was comfortable. I was sold, but decided not to wear the StashBelt until a formal agreement had been reached between the companies. Meh, a bit of superstition to not jinx anything, I suppose.

Fast-forward a few months; AFIMAC and StashBelt confirmed their partnership.

During the week that the contracts were being signed, I spoke to my colleague, Tom Brady, Director of Finance, about his vacation plans. He was originally heading to Greece, but had to make some travel modifications due to the political unrest. Tom and I discussed the protests, potential contingency plans, and how he was keeping up with what was happening in each region he was planning to go to. Since he was leaving the next day and wouldn’t have time to order one for himself, I suggested that he take my StashBelt, and I would later purchase my own.

Tom was very appreciative. He uploaded copies of both his and his wife’s passports, added embassy information for each country he was visiting in Europe onto the USB, and planned to add some money in the zippered secret compartment.

Tom didn’t have any emergencies and had an enjoyable and safe trip, but he said that he had the peace of mind that if he found himself in a tight spot, he had backup.



June 30th, 2015 Comments off

Just Launched!

Do you have internal theft problems, bullying or workplace violence threats, staff using drugs or any other issue that an investigation would help resolve for you? A Social Media Investigation is a cost effective way of uncovering information that will help you determine your next steps before you take them.

Check out anyone’s Social Media Footprint here:

Would you like to learn more about Social Media Investigations? Please reach out to our Investigations Team at 1-800-313-9170 or contact any of our AFIMAC reps.


“The information collected validated our suspicions and allowed us to act quickly to end the claim and get the employee back to work.” 
Director of Human Resources
Distribution Centre
500 employees

Do PIs Eat Pistachios?

June 29th, 2015 Comments off

You suspect an employee is claiming a workplace injury to stay home and collect benefits, so what do you do? Send an agent out to conduct surveillance, sit outside the subject’s home for hours on end and wait for them to go out jogging? No!

Research first.

I have an image engrained in my mind that private investigators eat pistachios. When I think of a PI, I picture them sitting in their car with their cameras and audio equipment, munching on pistachios and leaving a pile of shells on the road outside their car window. I’m not sure where I get this from, but I’m guessing TV and movies.

With this in mind, I created this ad.


After getting some feedback, it seems that not many quite understand my portrayal of PIs and pistachios. After I had the ad drafted, I asked a few people if they ‘got it’. I asked my wife who went to school for law enforcement and worked in the PI and security industry for years; she had no clue what pistachios had to do with investigations. I asked some people outside of the security industry, and they too, had no clue.

It was great information because if I hadn’t done the research, the ad would have failed. So I made a decision not to continue with it.

Now let’s get back to the employee you think maybe committing benefit claims fraud. Before you send out a costly investigator, conduct a social media search first and get an online analysis. This can help you in three ways:


1.       There are images posted on Facebook and Twitter with your employee out rock climbing, hiking, and playing volleyball

a.       Seems you were right, so now that you have this information, you can conduct a full 30-day social media surveillance for further evidence

b.      And/or you could now send out an investigator to get photos and video at one of the locations where your employee likes to rock climb


2.       There are no online posts of the employee doing anything that contradicts their injury, and they are in fact complaining about being stuck inside on the couch

a.       You could conduct a 30-day social media to be sure, but you probably don’t need to send an investigator out


3.       The employee doesn’t seem to have a social media footprint

a.       You could then move to an online analysis outside of social media to try and uncover details.


If you conduct research up front, it will save you money in the long run. Don’t go on hunches anymore; uncover the story available to you online.

Do you think PIs eat pistachio nuts while on surveillance? Please leave a comment below and let me know!


Twenty Five Years and He Let Me Fall

May 14th, 2015 Comments off


I was with a friend over the past weekend that I have known for twenty-five years, and reminded him of when he helped me out on a video shoot I did for AFIMAC a few years ago. I also reminded him of how he let me fall, literally.

We were shooting the educational active shooter video for AFIMAC, and I had staff, friends and family all helping out. We were short one person in a scene, so I stood in to take the part. My role was to run to the front doors of the building, act like I was shot, and fall down…without looking. We’ve all seen those team building activities where one person folds their arms on their chest, and falls backwards into the trusting arms of everyone stood behind them. Well, my scene required a similar trust factor. When I fell, my friend’s job was to quickly push a mattress under me to cushion my fall. Without the mattress, I would fall on a hard tiled floor.

We had to capture the scene from several different angles, which included another actor, so we had to do several takes. After we finished the fifth take, I got into position for the sixth. I turned and began to fall, but had a weird gut feeling, craned my neck to check the floor and noticed the mattress wasn’t there. With barely a millisecond to spare, I managed to get a hand down to break my fall onto the tiles.

You can check the scene out that I’m referring to at 1:50

One of the things that I like about my friend is his sense of humour. But that quality let me down on this occasion. Behind the scenes for any type of video shoot, there is a lot going on from cameras, lighting, people off camera, microphones, etc. My friend was preoccupied with some of the other people that were playing roles in other scenes, joking about, and adopted a sense of passiveness from the repetitiveness of my previous five takes for that scene.

He allowed himself to become distracted and forgot about me for a moment.

Someone may look at a service like an ‘airport transfer’ that AFIMAC provides its clients, and think it’s just that – a trained driver picks a client up at the airport and drops them off at their hotel safely. Seems easy enough, but it isn’t. No different than my example of depending on my friend to break my fall, AFIMAC transfers have a lot more going on behind the scenes as well.

Routes are selected and planned in advance, taking into account the time of day, whether there are any major events going on, and alternate routes are always preselected. Points of interest are also identified in advance, in case the driver must make an emergency stop, for example, if the client has any medical conditions and needs a hospital. The operations team tracks the AFIMAC driver and client via software, and notifies the driver of any changes in the planned routes.

I’m always impressed with the operational level of services my colleagues provide behind the scenes. It can prove to be invaluable.

I’d trust any of them to catch my fall.

AFIMAC Media Feature

May 14th, 2015 Comments off

Recently, AFIMAC spent some time with Sandra Peeples of Univision talking about domestic and international kidnapping threats. The feature is in Spanish with English subtitles, and has some great information, visuals and re-enactments. Check it out here.

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