Working in the security industry, the conversations in my home typically entail security and loss prevention. I recently went shopping with my kids and as we walked into the store, my 10 year old son says, “Mommy, where are the cameras?” I explained to him where the CCTV cameras were positioned and the many reasons why they are used. I continued telling him that some stores invest in them to identify theft and ensure the safety of their customers and employees.
Last week I was in Calgary for a business trip. When I told my kids that I would be away, my daughter says, “We don’t want you to go, but be safe and come home fast.” My son on the other hand, starts giving me a travel security plan. Given that we know a few people in the province – he started naming off a list of homes to go to if I needed any help in Alberta.
Children are astute and listen to the world around them more then we realize.
There are many security measures that contribute to deterring fraud in a retail setting. In a perfect world, the only goal for retailers is to focus on selling their product. But in reality, understanding the product and selling is now only one element to the role of a sales associate.
Sales associates need to have an understanding of loss prevention in order to support their security program. Fraud attacks the retail industry through many channels. A security program is part of doing business for most retailers. A program can encompass many different elements such as:
- Product Delivery
- Brand Protection
- Data Analysis and Trending
- Inventory and Shrink
- Internal Theft
- External Theft with Countless Shoplifting Techniques
- Merchandise Type and Market Demand
- Store Location
- Organized Retail Crime
- Credit Card Fraud
- Gift Card Fraud
- Internal Theft
- Social Media
- Travel Risk
There are distinct roles that are required in a retail setting when it comes to a sucessful security program. Loss prevention investigators can focus on areas of internal theft as well as support the retailer to apprehend shoplifters. Security guards can support inventory control measures and work diligently towards deterrence.
The right security expert will support your budget and help create a program that works for your company.
Last week was a busy travel week where I took four different flights. I was more concerned than I usually am. The terrible fate of Metrojet flight 9268 kept playing through my head. The plane left with tourists from Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt and crashed in the desert on its way to Russia. The investigations are still ongoing, but the incident seems likely to be caused by a bomb that was smuggled onto the plane inside a piece of luggage. French media reported on Friday that the sound of explosion could be heard on the airplane’s flight recorder, the evidence that a bomb was onboard. The investigation will now center on how this could have happened with security measures being in place at the Egyptian airport.
In all airports around the world, security was ramped up after 9/11 with the main change being the introduction of extensive cargo and luggage screening entering a plane. Since that time the requirements have become stricter and processes have been further improved. The devices being used to check our luggage have become more accurate and advanced. However there are some aspects that have made me realize that there are vulnerabilities that still exist such as international rules still being interpreted locally. The screening processes are different from country to country and sometimes from city to city. In some parts of the world, regulations are taken more seriously then in other countries. Another aspect is the dependency on the people performing the screening. As technology isn’t providing a 100% solution, we have to rely on the combination of an employee interacting with this technology. The cargo going through x-ray is being reviewed by a person watching a screen and the explosion detection is not consistent. The swipe they do on hands and laptop is used on a random basis, not covering all of the passengers. We have to rely on these security officers (paid a modest hourly rate), to follow the directions and regulations. Risk can be partially mitigated by making sure that the security officer is screened thoroughly prior to them hired. Background checks (criminal, credit and references) should be extensive. In addition, a psychological assessment and a social media search should be included.
In conclusion, investing in hiring processes will help reduce risk, along with assuring employees are treated and compensated well. Why not lessen the chance of someone turning a blind eye during an essential part of his or her job?
Today it is easier than ever to order luxury products online as cyber marketplaces gain more and more popularity. One rapidly growing website is Alibaba Group, which started in China 16 years ago and now competes with eBay and Amazon. Alibaba’s consumer-to-consumer Taobao, similar to eBay.com, features nearly a billion products and is one of the 20 most visited websites globally. This multi-billion dollar company has plans to further expand throughout the globe. The slowdown in China’s economy has led to only a 27% growth in revenue in the last quarter compared to 60% in the previous seven. This increase was primarily caused by the rise in sales of luxury products. As consumers in China get more disposable income, they are prepared to pay as much as 4,200 Yuan ($661) for a single item and they want to know that the product is real. Unfortunately, Alibaba has gained the reputation of being a counterfeit haven.
This is an image that will be hard to shake off, as China is known to produce ‘close to real’ Rolex watches and other luxury goods for as low as 1% of the original price. Many ordinary sailors could be spotted wearing these expensive watches when they came back from long trips oversees. At least it was understood that they were not getting the real deal when buying from a sales guy that had 25 watches on display in downtown Hong Kong.
In order to become a trusted online marketplace for luxury goods, Alibaba needs to put in a solid effort to prevent selling fake products. Their measures should be transparent and verifiable in order to convince not only local consumers, but also those in western countries where Alibaba wants to expand.
There are many ways to have fake products enter the supply chain, starting at the source, the production facility. After that, the final product makes its way through many warehouses and modes of transportation. In order to assess the vulnerability of the supply chain, there needs to be a detailed mapping of all these steps along with a review of the risks involved by site, transition phase and the transportation legs. Luxury brands will have to put pressure on companies like Alibaba to allow for thorough assessments performed by reputable management or security companies. The vulnerability assessment will result in recommendations to mitigate the risk of fake products entering the supply chain and in the end protecting the customer from buying a real fake Rolex.
While all teams are groups of individuals, not all groups are teams. Team members work together toward a common goal and share responsibility for their team’s success. A group is comprised of two or more individuals that share common interests or characteristics, and its members identify with each other due to similar traits.
Groups differ from teams in several ways:
- Teams require coordination of tasks and activities to achieve a shared aim. Groups do not need to focus on specific outcomes or a common purpose.
- Team members are interdependent and bring together a set of resources to produce a common outcome. Individuals in a group can be entirely disconnected from one another and do not rely on fellow members at all.
When you go to work every morning, are you going to meet your team?
Creating teamwork is a challenging process, and not all groups work as a team. Merely referring to a collection of employees as a team doesn’t make them one. The first question is this a team or a group? Each has a purpose. Typically, a team shares leadership and is interdependent, meaning they depend on each other for information, services or products to achieve a team goal.
Can a group of companies operate as groups and teams depending on the client? Yes, we are proof.
ASAP Secured/AFIMAC/ISB Services
Our services are uniquely defined and we support our clients separately as a group and as a team. When our clients require services that impact all companies, we work as a team to ensure our clients’ needs are met.
We collectively come together to form and develop a foundation to deliver a service required by our client. For example, some of ASAP Secured’s clients require travel risk and executive protection that is provided through AFIMAC and others require background checks that are completed by ISB. With this comes a collaborative team effort to ensure our client is receiving optimal service for all security requests. Our group of companies will progress and digress depending on multiple variables mandated by our clients’ needs. We acknowledge unique subject matter expertise and contributions brought forth by the defined team.
During the summer of 1967, New York TV station WNEW coined the phrase following urban unrest and rioting in Newark, NY. If you remember the phrase you can appreciate why it was important to know where your valuables were at all times.
This is equally true today in the trucking industry, where it is important for trucking companies to know where the cargo they are transporting is at all times. Sadly, despite efforts to combat cargo crime, thieves are becoming ever more creative in coming up with ways to steal cargo. One of the most recent approaches is for thieves to set up fake trucking companies, present themselves as legitimate third party carriers on Load Boards, pick up the cargo at a midpoint in the journey and never deliver it to its intended destination.
In a recent article I read in Fleet Owner Newsline, the author suggested that more due diligence needs to be done by shippers, brokers and even carriers. Background checks, social media searches and investigations should be conducted on third party carriers and their principals. According to Scott Cornell, Director of Specialty Investigations for Travelers Group, “If you are dealing with a brand new company with no track record or referenceable pool of information to draw from, or a carrier whose authority has lain dormant for several years and is now suddenly active, they need to be checked out.”
You could do that due diligence yourself, but who has the time to dedicate resources to investigate third party entities amongst all the other day-to-day tasks you need to complete to move cargo from point A to B to make money? Or, you could enlist the services of a professional organization that has expertise in all types of investigation – social media and physical.
It is my opinion that the investment of dollars to get the job done right and in a timely manner is far less than the cost of a lost shipment and the damage done to your company’s brand and reputation. It is important for companies to look for security partners who can assist in areas that are not core to their business.
If you would like to learn more about how my company can help you ensure you know where your cargo is and with whom #justASKMEE.
Three years ago, I was informed that a good friend’s family member had committed suicide. A beautiful 22 year old, with everything going for her – decided to end her life. Her family was devastated; her mother couldn’t forgive herself for not seeing any signs.
You could imagine the mourning and sadness her family went through in dealing with this tragedy. Not even a year later, her mom was diagnosed with cancer. The mother said, “maybe my daughter is missing me, with my daughter in heaven and my son here – I am torn”.
A month ago, I was at her funeral. People say – she didn’t die of cancer but rather of a broken heart.
Statistics show that people who have committed suicide have tried to reach out in some way. The world will always ponder how suicide can be prevented. Social media can definitely be one channel for monitoring suicide and using social media as a preventative measuring tool. Social media surveillance can be utilized in schools to check for not only bullying but also for vulnerabilities and the mental health of their students. In addition, parents can check on the status of their children especially during trying years.
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The son of wanted drug lord ‘El Chapo’, Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, received a lot of attention when he tweeted a photo of himself and his father eating dinner on August 31st. Although the tweet gave away his possible location, law enforcement has still not found one of the most wanted criminals in the world. The chase continues with Mexican authorities along with the FBI and DEA.
I continue to be amazed at how much can be found on social media. When data is harvested, normalized, interpreted and analyzed it can prove to be very valuable. As gathering information can be labour intensive and cumbersome, tools now exist that automate most of the process. Instead of spending valuable time in the collection phase, you can now focus on analyzing the information, draw conclusions and potentially determine your next steps in the process. AFIMAC’s Social media investigations are gaining traction, as it is a good way to find information about a person of interest. This service even can detect keywords and notify you through email and/or text.
It is being used as a part of recruitment processes where a snapshot or a ‘footprint‘ is often beneficial in weeding out undesirable candidates or to gain intelligence on suspected employees involved in embezzlement, substance abuse or harassment.
In a recent example, a client was concerned about drug use in the workplace. Although it was just a rumour, nobody was able or willing to point out who the users were. The client had some suspects. They decided to monitor these employees on open source social media to see if any interesting facts would come up. Keywords they used included “high”, “dope”, “joint”, etc. After 14 days, an alert came up on the word “high”. One of the suspects was bragging on his Facebook page about the fact that he worked better being “high”. He was a forklift driver in a large warehouse. An investigation commenced and an investigator at the facility interviewed the suspect. The investigator not only was able to have the suspect confess, but he also gave names of some of the other employees getting high on regular basis. The employee was terminated. The staff was warned and had to re-sign the HR policies that specifically prohibited drug or alcohol use during work hours.
From my bedroom I can see the windows of the house across the street are still boarded up. It seems to be taking forever to clean up and restore what once was a beautiful decorated home.
One day last September, I received a call from my wife telling me that our street was full of police and fire trucks. Our neighbour’s house was on fire. Flames leaked out the front and side of the house. The fire department was able to control the fire within a couple of hours. Luckily there were no casualties, but the damage was extensive. We later heard that the lint in the dryer caught fire, and then spread from the laundry room to the garage and hallway. The mother was home with her two children and smelled smoke, saw the flames and was able to leave the house unharmed. After the insurance adjuster checked out the site, he called in security to preserve the evidence and to ensure that nobody would be able to enter the premise, preventing any further incidents.
Several companies, including ASAP Secured, provide fire scene security. Experienced guards are sent to the site within two hours guaranteed. Security will stay on site until the investigation is completed, or the risk of unauthorized people entering the premise has been reduced. In this case, the house got boarded up after 2 days. The structure was still intact, leading to a yearlong renovation that is still underway. It is important to be aware of the risks of a fire in your home and to take precautions. Cleaning the lint out of the dryer regularly, not leaving the stove on and not leaving the iron plugged in when going away are some common sense practices. Also important is installing smoke and CO alarms in the main areas of your house. These devices need to be tested regularly for battery efficiency.
As for my neighbours across the street, the mother was awake and smelled the smoke early, giving her the opportunity to leave in time, but it could have ended in a real disaster including the loss of several lives. In the end, their insurance covered most of the damage and the whole neighbourhood also chipped in to help them out.