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.
News organizations worldwide are reporting that Leslie Lapayowker, a former Airbnb "super host" and guest at Carlos Del Olmo's residence through Airbnb, was a victim of sexual assault from Del Olmo during her stay. Lapayowker has filed a lawsuit against Airbnb for negligence in reporting Del Olmo's previous criminal history.
Lapayowker alleges that Del Olmo would make suggestive comments towards her, pound on her windshield while she was in the vehicle, and scream at his son loud enough for her to hear through the attached studio she was renting for the month. She left the studio after three nights but returned to pick up a few items that she had left. Del Olmo let her inside, trapped her in the room, masturbated in front of her, ejaculated into a trash can, then as he let her leave stated: "Don't forget to leave me a positive review on Airbnb."
Since Lapayowker has reported the incident to the police and Airbnb, Airbnb removed Del Olmo from their website. The attorney representing Ms. Lapayowker discovered through Del Olmo's criminal records that he had been arrested and charged in 2013 for the battery. He was accused of pulling his former girlfriend by her hair, dragging her from the back to the front seat of his car while his child was in the vehicle. Del Olmo was never convicted but was referred to as an anger management program. Airbnb stated that they had done a background check on Del Olmo, but Lapayowker is suing for not disclosing the arrest to her and allowing him to host on the website.
Two questions remain: Was their background check provider thorough enough to report back the domestic violence arrest? If so, why did Airbnb still approve Del Olmo?
Background Check Providers-Did they report enough?
If the provider did not report back the arrest in the background check results, it would not be a surprise. We have discussed in our blog several times about how there are many online background check providers out there, but they may not have access to legal databases. Airbnb even states on their help page that their background checks may not be thorough or accurate: "Due to the way certain databases are maintained, there may be gaps in the coverage provided by public records searches, and the online databases may be only updated periodically by local governments which we do not control or direct. Results of these database checks may not reveal or include recent criminal record activity." Regardless, companies are placing themselves at a liability by relying on background providers that may not have full, accurate, licensed access to background information. In order to access licensed proprietary databases, which can include the most updated criminal records and legal information, you need to be a professional with the proper legal licensing, such as a licensed private investigator.
Even if the provider did not accurately report the arrest, the fault would still lie with Airbnb for not crosschecking and verifying the information. Companies are catching on to this by hiring licensed private investigators to performed verified background check services to protect their liability.
Did Airbnb Practice Due Diligence?
According to Airbnb's help page, in the US they check "certain databases of public state and county criminal records, as well as state and national sex offender registries for criminal convictions and sex offender registrations." They also check the OFAC list for terrorist designations. Airbnb has not commented on whether they knew about Del Olmo's previous arrest, citing the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which prohibits disclosure of background check results, however, they did confirm that Del Olmo showed no prior convictions. Airbnb reports that they run background checks on at least the user's first and last name as well as the date of birth. However, what they state on their help page brings more concern on their level of due diligence: "We do not have these identifiers [full name and date of birth] for all hosts and guests and therefore cannot guarantee that we have conducted a check on every host or guest." Airbnb is missing vital information for background checks when users apply to be hosts or guests on their website. Airbnb should have a consistent signup process that disallows incomplete information in an application.
It has not yet been confirmed whether the provider did not accurately report the arrest or if Airbnb was aware of the previous arrest and neglected to deny Del Olmo as a host. Regardless, Airbnb has a vast peer-to-peer travel hosting network with no face-to-face time with their hosts. It is imperative that they get their background check information from verified services from licensed private investigators and follow through on intelligence they receive to keep their website service safe for the public. Otherwise, Airbnb will be facing more lawsuits and put the company's future in jeopardy.
GPS Phone Tracking
GPS tracking is a valuable tool: Whether you are a parent keeping track of your kids as they go to and from school, monitoring your teenager as they become a more independent driver, or a business owner who wants to maximize efficiency and transparency in your fleet. Having a GPS tracking device in your vehicle or in a backpack is a great way to keep tabs on your loved ones.
GPS Phone Tracking: Is it enough?
Smartphones have come out with their own tracking capabilities, with Apple's Find My Friend for iPhone and iPad on iCloud and several apps available for Android. (although Google recently started to roll out the ability to share location via Google Maps) These apps allow the convenience of tracking loved ones through their smartphones under their current phone contracts. These apps are usually low or no cost, but as the adage goes: You get what you pay for.
Disadvantages to Phone Tracking
Battery and Data
You are limited to the battery capabilities of the phone, which combined with using other apps during use, can cause decreased battery life and performance on the phone, making it an easy excuse for those you are tracking to avoid being tracked. GPS tracking on a phone is notorious for racking up data, which could cause throttling or overage charges in your phone bill.
Easy to Turn Off
Amid privacy concerns, apps cannot force a user to keep GPS tracking on their phone: Which means that the user could turn off the tracking and attribute it to glitches, signal problems, or a dead battery. The other issue is that tracking apps can easily be manipulated: For example, some apps have reported that if the user is on a call, the tracking can stop in the duration of the phone call.
More Likely to Be Lost or Stolen
Phones are more likely to be stolen out of a vehicle than a tracking device, which while the phone can still be tracked, there is no guarantee you will be able to get the phone back. Plus if the thief does a factory reset on the phone, there is a chance that you will not be able to continue tracking it. (especially if you use the iPhone/iPad tracking with iCloud or Google Maps tracking)
Benefits of Using a GPS Tracking Device
No drain on phone battery or data
iTrail uses the Verizon CDMA network to transfer data, (which is included in the subscription to iTrail) and their product specifies that the device can run for 14 days from a full charge with 1 hour of movement per day. The device will also go to sleep if the vehicle is idle for a certain amount of time. By using a separate GPS device, it reduces data usage on your cellphone plan and saves battery for the user.
Some phone tracking apps have alert systems, but devices like iTrail have alert systems to notify you if the driver goes above a certain speed, if they press the S.O.S button, turned off the device, if they departed or arrived at a certain destination, if they go outside a set geo-fence or travel area, or the battery is low. These alerts can be sent either via email or text to your phone.
The iTrail device measures approximately at 3″x2″1″, making it easy to place in a glove compartment or backpack. KJB Security also offers a magnet case if you want to mount it to the vehicle.
Some apps either only show real-time tracking or are limited in history reports. ITrail Live allows you to review past data, including speed and location pings.
GPS tracking has become a vital tool in keeping track of loved ones or of a fleet if you run a field-based business. While smartphones have advanced considerably in the last few years in GPS tracking, they are not perfect when it comes to battery life and preventing someone from manipulating the phone settings. Having a dedicated GPS tracking device is the more efficient way to record a person’s travels.
Call us at 1-888-698-0077 for more information on using GPS tracking devices
We are available 24/7
Why Hiring a Private Investigator to Verify Google and Social Media Background Checks is a Good Idea
Hiring can be a long and stressful process, but a necessary procedure. Many companies try to cut corners and make it as streamlined as possible, but lose vital details in the process, and set themselves up in a legal minefield.
Businesses need to use a professional background check service
As the internet has grown rapidly comes more accessible information. What once required a set of the Encyclopedia Britannica to answer inquiries, has now become cumbersome door stoppers, its original purpose replaced by Google and Wikipedia. There is an alarming amount of businesses that have deduced that solely using Google and checking social media accounts are sufficient methods in gathering background information on candidates. Only using internet searches to do a background check is like building a house with just a crowbar and a hammer. While these tools can gain some insight, they should be used as supplementary to a professional background check service such as Radius Investigations, who can verify the information you find online.
Why is checking Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google not a sufficient background check?
While some candidates may be naive and freely post with no filter, many are becoming smarter to hiring agents. 70% of employers report using social media to screen candidates and those who are looking for employment are taking notice. With the right privacy settings, users can hide questionable material from their profile. On the flip side, those who have no privacy settings enabled on an account could be knowingly posting non-controversial content.
Lacks Vital Information
It is no common that someone will be posting about their recent arrest online, (although it does happen, we personally have come across it in our investigations) or their credit and financial information. Going back to the earlier point, candidates can easily fabricate their social media pages to appear desirable to recruiters or withhold information. A professional background check goes beyond the basics and can access criminal, legal records, and financial information.
Inaccurate and Incomplete
It is important to remember that any information gathered online and on social media is not verified the information. To extend on the last point about fabrication, social media pages are not going to necessarily tell you whether the prospect would be a good employee. For example, someone who posts about their pets and hobbies doesn't tell you whether they are qualified for the position. More importantly, relying on internet searches could end up with you making a critical mistake by screening the wrong account due to similar names.
How a Professional Background Check Resolves these Issues
Professional background checks cover a wide range of facets that can be used in the hiring decision process. A professional background check can include:
- Driving records
- Court records
- Education records
- Drug test records
- Criminal records
- Military records
- Past employers
These are just a few of the types of records a professional background check service can obtain.
Legal Protections and Liability
Using a professional service can prevent you from unknowingly discriminating someone from hiring or firing based on information gathered from social media or internet inquiries because professional background checks provide verified information. It also protects you from violating any privacy laws, which are still vague in regards to information on the internet. Private investigators who provide professionals background checks services provide verified information, know how to identify potential legal issues, and proceed between your company and themselves to remain in compliance with the law.
Confirmation of Employment History
Getting a professional background check ensures an accurate employment history. Private investigators can not only perform background check services but have the ability to physically go to the sites or conduct interviews to confirm candidates' employment records.
Convenience and Confidence
Letting a professional service handle your background check procedures can ease a big legal and logistical responsibility. Even doing a basic internet search and social media screening can be time-consuming, and the quality of the results is not worth the investment.
Using social media and internet research can be valuable in understanding more about your candidates, but come with the caveats of legalities, being unverified information, and provide no guarantees of accuracy or insight. These methods should be used with caution and taken with a grain of salt in the overall hiring process. Social Media and Google should never be used as a replacement for a professional background check.
Need Professional Background Checks?
Get the facts on your potential hires through our expert Private Investigator from Radius Investigations!
Fudging the details of an insurance claim report - perhaps exaggerating the extent of damage, or not being entirely truthful about how exactly an accident happened - is a harmless lie, told by many people. Right? Wrong. Insurance fraud, or trying to get benefits that you aren't entitled to from an insurance company, can be a misdemeanor or a felony crime. This offense can carry heavy fines or even prison time. At Radius Investigations, we carry out a variety of services for insurance fraud investigations to help prevent or limit the losses sustained by fraud.
There are many aspects to running a business. One of them is to prevent employee fraud. Theft has been around since the beginning of time, and it is not going away any time soon. In fact, in the digital age, criminals are more sophisticated than ever before. However, by hiring private investigators, you can mitigate the risk of crime to your business, helping to protect your assets and profits. Here are some examples of how private investigators can protect your business.
Today, an estimated 90% of major employers in the country utilize employee background checks to ensure that their employees are being honest on their applications and that they're a good fit for the business. These pre-employment screenings can look for fraudulent claims on an application, criminal history, financial history, and much more.
It's important to take a closer look at just why it's critical to utilize employee background checks, and what it really comes down to in most cases is cost. By thoroughly scrutinizing the background of the people you may hire, you'll be able to ensure that you don't cost your company money by making hiring mistakes. Here's a look at some of the ways this is true.
Many businesses end up being the victims of employee fraud and misconduct, and with such a high number of companies located here in NYC/Long Island, it's only natural that many companies here will experience this problem as well.
Surprisingly, many businesses don't even realize that they're being taken advantage of until long after the money has been taken. Consider a couple of Long Island and New York examples if you're not convinced:
Your company needs every advantage that it can get in order to thrive in today's business climate. It's important to pay attention to everything from marketing to sales strategies and beyond, but many companies have now realized just how important the hiring process can be as well. Hiring the right employees is a must, and hiring errors can cost a company thousands of dollars – sometimes more.
There are numerous benefits offered by running employment background checks, including:
Businesses don't operate in a vacuum. They rely on teamwork and allies – not only from employees, but from partners, suppliers, vendors, accountants, and more. In short – you'll likely end up doing business with a lot of different people in order to keep your company moving forward.
From time to time, you might find that the use of a private investigator is needed. A private eye isn't really what the movies make it seem like, and as such it's worth taking a look at what they can do for a business. You might be surprised at the positive impact they can have on your bottom line.
With that in mind, here are the top ways that a private investigator can help your company.