In the last decade, bug sweeps are now one of our most requested services. With the rise in technology becoming more affordable, compact, and adaptable, it is more accessible for those with nefarious intent to eavesdrop on a victim to steal valuable intelligence. A victim of being bugged could be blackmailed by the suspect or have their information sold to a competitor.
Common reasons a client is susceptible to being bugged include:
- Involved in a lawsuit
- About to or have downsized
- In a competitive industry that relies on insider knowledge (marketing, fashion, automotive, product development, medical, technology, advertising, etc.)
- Is involved in government affairs or politics
Personal affairs: Is filing or in the middle of a divorce
- Involved in a custody battle (it is common for the children to have devices hidden in their things or during visits)
- In the process of getting married
- Filed an insurance claim
- Is or previously was in a position of power or influence, in business or politics
- Is a minister or religious leader
- Suspects the person eavesdropping is someone close to them who work in law enforcement, security, or the judicial system.
While you should always conduct due diligence beyond the face value of what a client tells you, if a client doesn’t disclose any of these warning signs and are not a high-risk client, there is a very high chance they are not being tracked or eavesdropped through devices.
However, when you do an intake with your client, if they note any of the warning signs below, it is advised to gather more information and move forward with a bug sweep or TCSM inspection:
People have found out about personal matters or confidential business secrets, or just seem to know too much about their activities.
This is the most telling sign that they may have been bugged: The client has noticed people they have never disclosed to know about their personal and business affairs. If it is a business, there are signs that a competitor or vendor has obtained the business’s internal information.
In the Home and Office
Evidence of a break-in, but nothing was stolen
Even if there is no overt evidence, the client may notice that something “seems off,” such as furniture or objects have been moved slightly, closets and drawers seem to have been rummaged through, or dusty areas have been disturbed. Additionally, a client may note that suddenly a new object was added to the home after the break-in, such as clocks, signage, picture frames, tissue boxes, lamps, and radios.
Wall fixtures have been shifted slightly
Some of the most popular hidden surveillance devices are designed to go inside or behind electrical outlets, light switches, smoke alarms, and lighting. Hidden camera lenses can be as small as the head of a screw, making them ideal to conceal in common wall fixtures.
Notice a strange vehicle parked near the home or office frequently with no one inside
Devices that transmit the recordings via wifi or RF may require the eavesdropper to be stationed nearby. Service or delivery trucks are commonly used: If you see the same or similar vehicle more than three times, there may be an eavesdropper. Vehicles with black or tinted windows allow the perpetrator to conceal them in the back of the vehicle to monitor the devices. Ladders or pipe racks on a vehicle can help conceal and antenna or beacon.
Interference in landlines, radios, or televisions
The client has noticed that their radio, landline, or television has been acting “weird.” This includes increased interference, a solid faint tone or high-pitched squeal on the phone, (note that beeping or high pitched noises could just be a result of a fax machine dialing the wrong number) or their radio loses signal in areas it never lost signal before.
Common objects have a small hole or reflective surface
Many spy stores sell a popular common home and office products such as lamps, clocks, tissue boxes, plant boxes, or exit signs, with a camera or microphone pre-installed, containing a small hole or reflective spot to hold the camera lens. A client has noticed that these products “just appeared” or these things have changed slightly in appearance.
In the Office
Ceiling tiles appear disturbed, discolored, or damaged, or have ceiling dust on the floor
A common installation location for hidden listening devices is inside the ceiling tiles: Their accessibility makes them a prime target. The client may have noticed that tiles have shifted, are not properly set in the frame, or recently were damaged. Note any recent maintenance issues in the building: These signs could be a result of a pipe leaking or new construction.
Bump in the vinyl baseboard
The vinyl-style baseboards are more popular in offices than in homes. A small bump or deformity in the vinyl baseboard along the floor may be a sign that someone hides and adhered to a wire or microphone behind the baseboard.
A client recently received gifts from vendors
If the client suspects that a competitor or vendor is spying on them, a common tactic is to place listening bugs inside “gifts”, such as pens, clocks, briefcases, adaptors, etc., Ask the client if any gifts have been given to them, and what specifically.
In Their Vehicle
Their car appears to have been broken into, but nothing was taken
Something inside the vehicle seems “off”, but nothing was taken. The client may have noticed that the seating was moved, (even though they are the primary driver and have not lent the car to anyone or any service technician recently) the car was rummaged through, or there are new items in the vehicle. This may have occurred multiple times, as the eavesdropper may need to retrieve the device to download the data or recharge the battery.
The car seems to be taking longer to start
Some tracking and eavesdropping devices may be connected to the car battery, using the power source when the engine is off. While it may not completely drain the battery, it can cause the car to stutter a bit as the remaining power tries to start the engine. This is not as common now as devices are moving more to use internal batteries and going into an “idle” mode when movement or sound is not detected to conserve power.
Electronics in the car are behaving erratically
The electronics in the car, including the radio and displays, are acting strange, which could result of interference from a covert surveillance device.
Others seem to know the client’s whereabouts
GPS tracking devices can be attached to a car with something as simple and discreet as a strong magnet. Common areas include under the engine bay, rear bumper, inside the dashboard, and behind the wheel well.
Client suspects they are being followed while driving
If there is a hidden microphone or camera in the car, the suspect may need to stay within a certain range of the device to acquire the recordings. The client noticed that the same vehicle was following behind them, or frequently parked near their car.
While this list is not exhaustive or that these are definitive indicators that a client is bugged, it is enough to warrant further investigation. Seeing these signs in our own agency has resulted in finding covert devices approximately 80% of the time. It is imperative that you analyze the context of your client's situation and perform proper due diligence to ensure you offer the best type of services for your client's needs and give them peace of mind.
Dixon Police Officer Mark Dallas has been praised as a hero by members of Dixon High School, his colleagues, the city of Dixon, and Vice-President Mike Pence, for his brave and heroic actions in stopping an active shooter on May 15th, 2018, at Dixon High School. Dallas shot and wounded the gunman, a 19-year-old former student, who opened fire near the school's west gym, where students have gathered for graduation rehearsal.
When the gunman arrived on campus around 8 a.m. and began to open fire, Dallas rushed to the source. As he approached the suspect, the gunman fled and fired shots at the officer while Dallas was in pursuit. Dallas was not struck by the suspect's shots. Officer Dallas returned fire, struck the suspect, and the suspect was taken into custody.
Students in the gym who heard the gunshots thought they were firecrackers. Gym teacher Andrew McKay ran into the gym and instructed students to evacuate the gym. The students ran out of the gym and went to the National Guard armory nearby. Students in other areas of the building went into lockdown, barricading their doors with chairs and furniture. The building remained in lockdown in the immediate aftermath of the incident, and the school was not in session the following day.
Because of Dallas' and McKay's actions, no one was hurt during the incident, with the exception of the gunman. The suspect was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries and is in custody with local law enforcement. Dallas is currently on paid administrative leave to allow time for him and his family to process the events.
Dixon Mayor Liandro Arellano Jr. praised Dallas in how he mitigated a tragedy: “From the angle I’m looking at right now, a lot of things went right today when a great many of them could have (gone) wrong. Things could have gone much worse.”
Officer Mark Dallas is a 15-year Dixon police department veteran and has 24 years experience as a LEO. He has served as a resource officer at Dixon High School for five years. DHS has had resource officers on campus since 2000 to help prevent school violence.
See Something, Say Something: How a Community Stopped a Potential School Shooting
Editor's note: Even though there was no crime committed, we chose to not disclose the subject's name due to his disturbing behavior. Unless a suspect is at large, we never state a shooter's name to avoid giving them more media attention and notoriety. You can learn more about this phenomenon from the "Don't Name Them" campaign.
Last month, Syracuse University averted a potential school shooting, thanks to the vigilance of the local community: From a gun store owner, maintenance worker, friends, to local and federal law enforcement.
A 22-year-old student from China was attending Syracuse University on a student visa. In March, he displayed suspicious behavior that led to an investigation by authorities.
It began on March 12th when a gun store owner in Nelson, New York, Mr. John Laubscher, was assisting this student. Laubscher was not unfamiliar with SU students-many came to his shop to purchase archery equipment and hunting rifles. Foreign students can purchase firearms with a valid hunting license. This student had just received his hunting license and asked Mr. Laubscher about purchasing an AR-15 rifle. Laubscher said that the type of rifle is not available in New York, so the student began to look at high capacity shotguns.
He immediately became suspicious of the student, since those type of firearms is not typically used for hunting at that time of year. He said he wasn't sure what gun to purchase, but was going to learn through a class at SU. As a SU alum, Laubscher knew full well there was not a high-capacity firearms class there. The store owner refused to sell him any weapons. Once he left the store, Laubscher contacted the police to report the incident, noting his license plate number as the student sat in his car.
The student left shortly after that day to go to Mexico with friends for Spring Break. Meanwhile, authorities were able to trace the car to the student's apartment.
Local law enforcement began an investigation into the student's background and found he had been in two psychiatric care facilities recently, the records noting drinking, suicidal thoughts, depression, and could lose control and commit violence toward no one in particular. Officials placed him on a list that prohibited stores from selling him a gun.
A maintenance worker at the apartment complex where the student was residing contacted the police. An alarm had gone off in his room. When the employee investigated the source of the alarm and found that no one was there, he used his master key to enter the room. In the apartment he found ammunition.
Several friends who were in Mexico contacted SU to report concerning behavior from the student. He had told others "The reason I want to buy guns is not to go hunting...I might do something extreme in the future.", as well as: "I might use the gun to cause trouble, I have been preparing."
These reports were enough evidence to be granted a warrant by the judge. On March 19, police searched the student's apartment and found several rounds of ammunition and gun accessories, including gunsights and a laser scope. No firearms were found. Authorities gave an involuntary order to commit him to a psychiatric hospital. However, that order would never be fulfilled.
Syracuse University revoked his status as a student, thus his visa became invalid. As he returned to Newark Airport from his spring break vacation in Mexico, he was immediately detained by federal agents and deported back to China. They contacted officials in China to report the information gathered on the student. It is unclear what has become of the student in his homeland.
While this potential crisis was averted, Syracuse Deputy Police Chief Derek McGork noted that despite the vigilance of the community and law enforcement, it still took 6 days to obtain a warrant to search the student's apartment, and the student was out of the country while police caught up with his whereabouts. Despite the length of time it took, it can be agreed that through the numerous reports, which one report alone would not have been enough to obtain the warrant, as well as law enforcement's response to the threat, helped to mitigate this potential tragedy.
Tax scams have been around for well over decade-the prerecorded calls and spoofed emails; It's nothing new. While thankfully more people have caught on and simply hang up or delete the messages, scammers are changing their strategy.
Scammers have become more elaborate: This year, the IRS released a new scam alert. With new techniques and many sectors lacking in cybersecurity infrastructure, it has become easier for criminals to steal data from you or your tax professional-acquiring bank and social security information. They use that data to file forged tax returns in your name. Once you receive the check or deposit, they do one of two versions of the scam: They either pose as debt collection agency officials, claiming the refund you received was in error and to pay them. The other method is to send a very intimidating pre-recorded phone call that claims if you do not return the money to the IRS, you will be arrested.
Here is an example of a tax scam call received (part of the message was not recorded):
[inaudible].......And once it gets expired, after that you will be taken under custody by the local cops, as there are four serious allegations pressed on your name at this moment. We would request you to get back to us, so that we can discuss about this case, before taking any legal action against you. The number to reach us is [local number]. I repeat, [local number], Thank you.
While the person in question who received this understood it was fake, many people fall victim to these scams: The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) estimates 4,550 victims paid these scammers over $23 million dollars since 2013.
While it has become more challenging to discern, especially when they play with your emotional response and fears, there are a few things that still hold true to help protect yourself:
The IRS Will Never Call You to Threaten Arrest or Demand Immediate Payment, Without an Opportunity to Question or Appeal
The IRS has stated that they will never call you or leave a prerecorded message demanding payment. They will always send a bill in the mail before calling you.
Call the IRS Directly to Verify
If you know you owe taxes or suspect you owe, call them directly: 800-829-1040 for assistance on any money you actually owe. Even if the person on the phone tells you not to hang up, hang up. Call the IRS direct number to confirm the information.
It's easy to forget to put off your taxes when you have months to complete it. Scammers take advantage of this and will try to file with your information before you. If you do file and it is rejected because a return already exists, follow the IRS' Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft
Keep Your Information Secure
Scammers may ask you for payment-the IRS will never ask for your credit or debit card information over the phone. Never access your tax or financial information on public wifi access, as those are prime targets by scammers to hack into your account. If they get into one of your accounts, it can be easy for them to access others, especially if you tend to use the same login credentials for all of your accounts.
What if I have been scammed?
As we explained in a previous post on phone scams, you need to do the following:
- Freeze all of your accounts and change all information on file
- Call your bank and the IRS to notify them that you are a victim of identity theft and have been scammed
- Get a free credit report and sign up for credit monitoring
Matthew Seifer and Don Longo had the opportunity to discuss the recent active shooter incidents and how to survive with host Tom Schiliro on "Your Island with Tom Schiliro" on LI News Radio 103.9FM. This took place the day after hosting our first active shooter seminar. This radio segment is an excellent introduction for active shooter survival, but not as comprehensive as our seminars. You can sign up for our email list to stay updated on upcoming seminar dates. We expect to do monthly seminars starting in January 2018.
This segment was broken into two parts. Each part is approximately 20 minutes.
Licensed P.I. and Retired Police Officer Don Longo Presents Active Shooter Survival Seminars
Radius Investigations, Inc. Hosts Seminars by Anti-Crime and Active Shooter Security Expert
Hauppauge, NY: In response to the recent Las Vegas mass shooting tragedy, Radius Investigations, Inc. has announced their partnership with Anti-Crime Technique and Tactics expert Don Longo, to kick off hosting a series of anti-crime tactic and technique public seminars, at Radius Investigations’ headquarters. The first topic on surviving an active shooter incident will be open to the public in the Citibank building on Motor Parkway in Hauppauge. Don Longo is a licensed private investigator and decorated Retired Suffolk County Police Officer with over 30 years’ experience in law enforcement and security. Longo specializes in domestic and international anti-crime tactics and techniques, with previous experience with members of the FBI and U.S. Secret Service. His other seminar topics include Senior scams, international travel safety, recognizing potentially violent behavior in adults and children, and “verbal judo”: a technique that is used in training police officers to verbally deescalate tense situations, modified for the public audience.
In response to the recent announcement, Licensed Lead Private Investigator at Radius Investigations, Matthew D. Seifer said, “It is an honor to host these seminars by such an esteemed individual that is Don Longo. His knowledge and professionalism are in line with our initiatives in offering valuable educational resources for our clients, local businesses, the New York and Long Island communities. By Promoting Safety and Security through Knowledge and Education, our goal is to help save lives in the event of an emergency.” Radius Investigations has been working intensely this year to present educational opportunities to the public, including a partnership with Safety Quest, Ltd. in providing certified instruction for NYS Security Guard Training Courses at Radius Investigations’ new location.
- The first lecture by Don Longo, “How To Survive an Active Shooter Incident”, will be on Nov. 9th from 7 pm-9 pm, hosted downstairs in the Media Center at Radius Investigations’ facility at 150 Motor Parkway, Hauppauge, New York, 11788. Seating will be limited; Advance registration is required. To see the full schedule and registration information for the Anti-Crime Tactics and Techniques Seminars or request a seminar at your location, visit Radius Investigations’ website. (https://gstny.com/anti-crime-active-shooter-seminars/ )
About Radius Investigations, Inc: Radius Investigations Inc., located on Long Island in Hauppauge, New York, is not your typical private investigation firm. Radius Investigations is one of the first to provide not only private investigation and security consulting services, but host NYS Security Guard Training courses in their 90-person classroom facility. Radius Investigations, Inc., was founded in 2007 by Matthew D. Seifer, an army veteran, Lead Licensed Investigator, Registered Armed Guard, and NYS DCJS Certified Instructor. Radius Investigations’ network of expert “no bull” private investigators works with clients in New York and worldwide to gather actionable intelligence to help them make informed decisions.
Marketing Coordinator, Radius Investigations, Inc.
While we never hope to be in this situation, the reality is that mass shooting in large public areas are on the rise. The tragedies that occurred in Las Vegas in late 2017, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in early 2018, and countless others, are sober reminders that these situations can happen anytime, anywhere. In reaction to this, while there will be much political debate on gun control and mental health for months to come, (whether anything comes of it is another story) the best thing you can do today is be proactive in learning about what to do to survive a mass shooting, even if you don't have any training. Knowledge is power.
Our key contributor today is Long Island Licensed Private Investigator, Registered Armed Security Guard, and NYS DCJS Certified Instructor, Matthew D Seifer, who gives his expertise in outlining five key things you need to do in order to get out of an active shooter situation:
1. Use Situational Awareness:
You know those bland and boring safety demonstrations you have to sit through on a plane or in a movie theater? Don't dismiss them, pay attention and use that knowledge to your advantage. Any time you enter a space, note the exits and emergency exit locations, as well as any obstacles that may be problematic. Always be aware of what is happening around you, and act upon that information. Our minds tend to associate sounds or stimuli that are a threat as innocuous. For example, many concert-goers in the Las Vegas mass shooting thought at first that the gunshots were pyrotechnics malfunctioning or fireworks. It wasn't until country music singer Jason Aldean ran off the stage and victims began to drop while bleeding, that the crowd realized something was amiss. In another mass shooting, on that fateful Valentine's Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, some students reported that when they heard gunfire, they at first thought the sound of gunshots were balloons popping. When in doubt, get out.
2. React Immediately to a Threat:
Every second count in an active shooter event. According to a 2013 report by the U.S. Department of Justice, approximately 70% of Active Shooter incidents ended within 5 minutes. (Although the Las Vegas mass shooting was an outlier, lasting 10-15 minutes) It can take law enforcement an average of 10 minutes to respond, enter, and engage the shooter, with the same report stating that 60% of active shooter incidents ended before police arrived.
As seen in Las Vegas, in a short amount of time, a devastating amount of damage can be amassed. Your best chance at ensuring survival is in your actions. Having the knowledge from using the situational awareness techniques mentioned earlier can help you make the most informed escape route:
If you are able to safely escape, do so. Employ tactical moves such as using cover as you make your way to an exit and escaping the "kill zone." Do not stop moving until you reach a safe place. Many victims in the Las Vegas shooting dropped to the ground to try to avoid gunfire, but unfortunately, due to the lack of cover, they were hit by the gunman's high vantage point. If you cannot run......
If a safe escape is not possible, find a safe place to hide. If there is not a designated safe room, or cannot reach it, find a room that locks from inside, then lock and barricade the door. Arm yourself with any improvised weapons you can find. Use large protective objects to block yourself from potential gunfire. Most importantly, remain quiet.
Additionally, you need to find cover, not concealment. Concealment will only obscure you from view, but not protect you from bullets. These can be things such as wooden fences, garage doors, car doors, fabric walls, sheetrock, or other weak materials. The cover will block you from view and provide you with protection from gunfire. Look for cover behind things made of concrete or heavy steel, such as barriers, columns, vehicles, (stay near the engine block and front wheels to avoid being hit by gunfire that ricochets under the car) and thick walls.
This is an absolute last resort, after exhausting the run and hide options. At this point, you need to decide to survive: If you encounter the shooter, your only hope is to fight for your life. Commit to taking them down, with whatever means necessary. Use improvised weapons, aggression, and do not stop until the shooter has been neutralized. Your success hinges on your will to live and a survivor mindset.
Matthew Seifer provides anti-crime seminars to the public, including: schools, places of worship, corporations, businesses, entertainment venues, hotels and resorts, libraries, and non-profit organizations. His renowned active shooter seminars go more in depth to cover topics such as:
- How to prepare and plan for an active shooter incident (also known as an Emergency Response Plan or ERP)
- How to recognize indicators of an active shooter before overt action occurs
- Known behaviors of active shooters during an incident
- Actions to take when confronted with an active shooter
- Effective response procedures for escaping, hiding, and fighting
- Proper alert procedures
- Establishing and using Safe Rooms
- Correct responsive actions upon arrival of law enforcement personnel
If you would like more in depth knowledge of how to survive an active shooter situation, you can get more information or request a seminar with our new training division, Guardian Security Training, for your place or work, worship, school, local library, or public space.
Request a Seminar from Anti-Crime Tactic and Technique Expert Don Longo to protect yourself and your loved ones from an active shooter situation.