How we do what we do
We have a robust arsenal of standard techniques that we employ in order to conduct our investigations and operations, gather evidence and produce satisfactory outcomes for our clients. Below are some of the most common techniques that we employ.
Surveillance is the meat and potatoes of investigations. Video and photographic evidence is very valuable as it is extremely difficult to refute in court. Covert surveillance requires a trained and patient individual who is confident, can think on their feet and can adapt to change quickly.
There are different types of surveillance.
- Static Surveillance
Static surveillance involves an agent stationed near a property with the intention of recording the activities of the subject at a specific place or location. Reconnaissance is an essential preliminary step that will allow the agent to decide on the ideal viewpoint that provides clear footage while not arousing suspicion. In some situations such as rural areas it may be appropriate to place an operative in camouflage and/or to use specialist imaging equipment such as long distance lenses.
2. Mobile surveillance
This is surveillance that occurs when the subject is on the move and must be followed. It can be done with a single agent or as a coordinated team following SOPs. Agents may need to follow on foot, in vehicles, or follow the subject into public transport such as buses or trains, all while not arousing suspicion, capturing evidence, and keeping an accurate mental or physical log of places, times and occurrences.
3. UAV Surveillance
In a select number of cases with an unforgiving surveillance climate (such as an enclosed compound), UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or “drones” can be very effective. UAVs often come with additional challenges that can make them difficult to use in surveillance, such as battery limitations, privacy concerns, and footage quality due to the distance from the subject required in order to avoid detection. However, they can be very efficacious when used correctly.
Open-Source Intelligence or OSINT is the gathering of information that is publicly available, much of which is online but which may also include traditional media channels, academic publications, corporate papers, or geospatial information sources such as maps and commercial satellite imagery. It should not be underestimated as a resource, as it is used with great effectiveness by every intelligence agency in the world. Modern case study: at least 840 people were arrested for attending the 2021 January 6th Capitol Riot in the US, due largely to the use of OSINT to identify and trace suspects.
An experienced OSINT investigator is adept at forming a full picture from small pieces of information gathered from a multitude of sources. An OSINT investigation often starts with social media and surface-web searches. Then more intelligence can be gathered from digital files (images, videos, documents) and their metadata, technical website footprinting, physical records, data leaks, IP addresses, databases and the deep web. Each lead that an investigator finds will make it easier to find the next lead and so on.
Social Engineering is the term we use to describe engineered human interactions for the purposes of obtaining key pieces of information. Social engineering is a method we use to obtain information such as the current address of a subject, or it can also be used to get closer to a subject in a challenging surveillance climate.
There are several vectors that can be taken, and techniques can vary widely according to the situation. Some examples include:
- Vishing. This describes the practice of using social engineering over a telephone system for reconnaissance purposes to gather more detailed information about a subject.
- Phishing and Smishing. This involves sending emails or SMS messages with the intent of obtaining or confirming information.
- Pretexting. An agent can go to an address or a building under a pretext that may help them to gain key information, such as the current whereabouts of a subject.
- Tailgating. This involves following behind a person with access into an apartment building before the door closes.
There are important ethical and legal considerations that we take seriously into account when performing social engineering. Firstly, impersonating a real person is not ethical or legal and PSS will never do so (unless given express permission by the person being impersonated as part of a security consultation). We do not conduct any IT hacks or link-phishing attacks, and pretexting as a person of authority is also off the table. Lastly, we will never use social engineering to gain physical access into a premises that we do not have permission to access.
Sometimes, a confident agent can be infiltrated into an organisation as part of a security consultation. There are two main types of undercover assignments that have different rewards based on the goals of the operation.
Firstly, placing a confident undercover agent in a strategic position within an organisation can be a tremendous fraud fighting initiative. For example, an undercover investigator can infiltrate informal employee groups and gather information about theft, illegal drug usage, fraud, employee behaviour and rivalries, production issues, and general team culture and atmosphere. An undercover agent can report developments and other activities among the work force.
Secondly, an undercover agent can be used as part of a security consultation. This will test the company’s security facilities and imposter detection capabilities. The agent will attempt to infiltrate inside the organisation, and demonstrate the ability to access confidential files or equipment as a simulation of corporate espionage.
The possibility of in house fraud exists in all business. Technical eavesdropping equipment can put a company at risk. Protocol can arrange an electronic sweep to be carried out and give some peace of mind to managers that they have not been compromised within their organisation.
A test purchase is a common step taken during Counterfeiting and Intellectual Property Investigations. A test purchase provides solid evidence that an organisation or person is counterfeiting or selling a product when not authorised to do so.
Test purchases are used in a variety of industries and for a variety of purposes, but it is especially useful to protect brands from harm to their reputation and sales due to counterfeited products. A test purchase can also reveal more information like shipping addresses and business names that might not be readily available on a listing. This can help you build intel about the parties responsible for a counterfeit operation.
We are well equipped and trained to deal with complex scenarios. We have the very best camera solutions for covert operations. We have equipment for tracking and monitoring targets. We have appropriate equipment to conduct night and day surveillance operations. We have a variety of vehicles at our disposal including motorcycles if required. We have a fully licensed communications system. If we don’t have the required equipment we have means to promptly access it .
Our best resource is our people, experience and ingenuity. Over the years we have built up an impressive contacts base in all aspects of security where we can obtain information where needed. We also subscribe to databases nationally and internationally to assist us with our investigations. As a result of prior corporate intelligence work we have been involved in the past, we have made some very useful contacts internationally.