Archive for the ‘Protective Services and Investigations’ Category

AFIMAC CEO, Peter Martin, Quoted in Bloomberg ‘Facebook Spent $12.5 Million to Protect Zuckerberg Since 2013’

April 29th, 2016 Comments off


Facebook Inc. revealed that it spent $4.26 million on security for Mark Zuckerberg last year, its first disclosure of such costs, and the highest among companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index that have filed proxy statements for fiscal 2015.

The expense brings the total cost from 2013 to 2015 to $12.5 million, according to a regulatory filing. The cost was “to address safety concerns due to specific threats to his safety arising directly as a result of his position as our founder, Chairman, and CEO,” the company said in the filing. Zuckerberg is the world’s eighth-richest person with $47 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Facebook spent $5.6 million for Zuckerberg’s security in 2014 and $2.65 million in 2013. Last year’s expense exceeds the $1.53 million Oracle Corp. spent to protect Executive Chairman Larry Ellison in fiscal 2015 and Inc.’s $1.6 million for Jeff Bezos, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The figure also outstrips other famous executives. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. paid $370,244 for personal and home security for billionaire Warren Buffett in 2015. Apple Inc. spent $209,151 on Tim Cook.

Facebook made the disclosure this week after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in August questioned why the costs had never been listed in filings as a taxable perquisite. In response, Facebook argued that a “business-oriented security concern” identified for Zuckerberg exempted it from having to report those expenses. After discussions with SEC staff, the company reversed its position, according to a filing.

Home Security

Facebook spokesman Jonathan Thaw declined to comment. Chief executives of global businesses are often required by their boards to travel on company-provided planes or cars even for personal trips. More than half of firms in the S&P 100 Index had such policies last year.

Facebook provides Zuckerberg with a home security system and guards who also protect his house in San Francisco’s Mission District. The team is overseen by a former U.S. Secret Service agent who protected President Barack Obama.

Security “should be a board of directors’ first and foremost concern,” especially at companies built around a central figure, said Peter Martin, chief executive of security consultancy AFIMAC Global. “As a shareholder, you want to make sure that your CEO is protected.”

Closer Look

That doesn’t come cheap. Each around-the-clock assignment requires four full-time guards, which annually can cost more than $80,000 each, said Christopher Falkenberg, chief executive of New York-based Insite Security Inc., which provides protection to clients including hedge funds. A security director can earn about $200,000 a year.

Recent terrorist attacks in two European capitals and an office shooting in San Bernardino, California, have prompted some boards to re-examine security. While the risk for a little known top executive may be low, a person’s public prominence can quickly change, much thanks to social media, Falkenberg said.

Oracle’s cost in fiscal 2015 was for security at Ellison’s residence. Home protection systems can include camera surveillance, pressure pads located near doors or walkways to detect movement, and dense vegetation or crushed gravel that’s noisy to walk on beneath windows to deter intruders, AFIMAC’s Martin said.

“It is important to keep the boss safe, but there comes a point — certainly south of the $1 million mark — where shareholders deserve a far clearer explanation of the risks and provisions and the justification,” said Michael Pryce-Jones, director of corporate governance at CtW Investment Group, which advocates for pension funds that collectively manage $250 billion.

Still, rigorous programs that come with steep costs can be warranted for some, said Paul Viollis, CEO of security provider Viollis Group International.

“It all comes down to having fiduciary responsibility,” Viollis said. “Not providing protection would be like going to the Super Bowl with nobody to block for the quarterback.”

Experto en seguridad de América Latina, Arturo Garffer citado en Miami Diario

March 4th, 2016 Comments off


También se exploró hacia dónde va el voto latinoamericano en el 2016

Garffer afirma que el terrorismo en el siglo 21 es asimétrico y muy dinámico. No hay una fuerza militar convencional que pueda prevenir al 100% un ataque en territorio americano o en cualquier parte de Latinoamérica.

“Las fuerzas terroristas sí han podido muy hábilmente venir desde diferentes países de Oriente y norte de África y movilizarse hacia Latinoamérica estableciendo santuarios,  como por ejemplo la triple frontera entre Brasil Paraguay y Argentina, o la frontera entre Colombia y Venezuela, y a partir de los cuales puedan movilizarse hacia los EEUU, dijo Garffer.


Latin América Director de operaciones

“No se trata entonces de una operación militar solamente sino también generar un movimiento de inteligencia que ser pueda traducirse en acción y prevenir la entrada de estos individuos a nuestros países sino también evitar que puedan establecer comunicaciones directas internas y externas entre ellos.” dijo.

Garffer considera que el Gobierno estadounidense ha sido débil en combatir este fenómeno porque no tienen ni la capacidad no el conocimiento de cómo lidiar con este fenómeno asimétrico. “No peleamos contra un ejército regular. Peleamos contra gente que no se ve e identificar a menos que ellos hagan algo que los ponga a la luz. La administración presente ha sido renuente a tomar riesgos y lamentablemente en los próximos 10 meses no va a cambiar su política. Se va a dedicar a sostener su política de ‘political correctness’, y no cumplir con el principal deber del Presidente de este país que es el de ser Comandante en Jefe y proteger la nación del peligro de otro ataque en nuestro territorio.” dijo.

La XIII Cumbre Latinoamericana de marketing politico y gobernanza continúaba con una interesante ponencia a cargo deCarlis Souto, experto en realización de mensajes políticos que fueron muy exitoso en campañas politicas realizadas en 1999 y 2003 titulado Politicas, Mentiras y Vídeo.

A continuación, el analista político y periodista colombiano Jairo Libreros reflexionó acerca de lo que muchos analistas observan como un cambio en el péndulo político en la región basados en el resultado electoral en Argentina, la victoria de las oposición venezolana en la elecciones parlamentarias el pasado 6 de diciembre y la victoria del No en el referéndum boliviano recién realizado este 21 de febrero.

Libreros difiere de esa visión. El analista es pesimista y cree que aún falta mucho tiempo para que ese cambio de péndulo se realice. En su opinión el Liderazgo autoritario y oportunista se seguirá imponiendo dada la desconfianza del ciudadano hacia las democracia.  El descontento popular y la erosión del público hacia la política es grande.

“No se para dónde va el voto latinoamericano, lo que sí les puedo decir es que de cada 10 votantes, sólo 3 están de acuerdo en mantener la democracia, y por otra parte la política va hacia la manipulación del descontento popular y la lealtad de las fuerzas de seguridad”. Lo que más le preocupa es darse cuenta de que quien pueda manejar la fuerza pública será exitoso en obtener el poder y no hará nada por ser leales a la democracia.

You Made Your Bed, Now Lie in It

February 23rd, 2016 Comments off

ME_SEP_DT_generic_FootballOne thing that has always pained me when playing team sports is when the rest of the team has to suffer consequences for another teammates actions. All too often during a close game, a teammate will do something that makes the team lose valuable time, field position, points and potentially the game.

Are we responsible to stop a teammate from swearing at the ref because they didn’t agree with the original penalty? We can try and quiet the offender after the fact so it doesn’t get any worse but could we have done something before the game? Absolutely. The team manager knows what that player is like and could have decided to discipline him or kick him off the team – but didn’t.  So the bed is made, now lie in it.

Recently in the news, a 20-year-old man said he received a homophobic Valentine defaced with slurs from a co-worker. The company, Party City now has to deal with the consequences of one of their ‘teammate’s’ actions. Is it fair to say, ‘you made your bed…’ in this case? Was the alleged offender known for stunts like this in the past?

What could Party City have done prior to hiring the alleged offender to verify if they were a potential liability? Background screening and a social media investigation might have helped, but if it didn’t, the company could have at least used pre-employment screening as a defense when the case inevitably ends up in court.

The cost for corporations having to react to something like this far outweighs the minimal expense of pre-employment background screening.

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
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