Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Your car may be bugged, or have a GPS device attached, and you don't even know it. Typically, bugs in cars are transmitted by a cleverly hidden cell phone. Some of these cell phones have an extension microphone and a cord going to the battery for power (see photo). They are difficult to detect.
Monday, August 09, 2010
We got a call from a guy who’s now living in Motel 6. At first he had bed bugs and now he’s homeless.
As a solution to his bed bug problem he went on the Internet to find an exterminator. He found one nearby who had a nice website, and the exterminator claimed he had 30 years experience.
He hired him. The exterminator wanted $5000 down, but it was guaranteed to eliminate the bed bugs. He paid. Then the exterminator came after him for another $5000. He still hadn’t done anything yet! (I know, you ask how the guy could be so stupid. Con men get the word “con” from “confidence.” There are many kinds of cons, from your neighborhood spiritual advisor to Bernie Madoff.)
Anyway, then the guy lost his job and couldn’t make his mortgage payments, and now he’s living in Motel 6. (Anybody want to buy a house with bed bugs?)
Finally, he checked the exterminator out by going to the county courthouse. The exterminator had a long list of suits, judgments, and a couple of bankruptcies. The guy who called us now has a suit against the exterminator. (Lots of luck.)
At Sherlock Investigations we can check out any contractor, in any state. Whether you hire some to put in a pool, or exterminate bed bugs, let us check ‘em out first!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
A few years ago I was looking for a storefront in Manhattan's Upper West Side to open a spy store. One of the things I wanted to sell were various kinds of bug detectors since I already did bug detection anyway and could teach people how to use the devices.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Sherlock Investigations proudly serves the gay and lesbian community in New York City and elsewhere. We’ve always employed gay or lesbian investigators. Many of our best clients have been LGBT.
Sherlock Investigations participates in the various events of the LGBT community in New York. We consider it an honor to work with LGBT clients.
Call us if you have any need. We’re confidential and discreet.
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Recently I flew to Jamaica West Indies to perform a bug sweep for a well-known celebrity. He rented a villa there and was concerned about paparazzi placing hidden cameras. The place was clean and I was there for less than 24 hours.
Last year I swept a conference room in Washington, DC for a major pharmaceutical company who was having a convention. The job started at three in the morning. When I finished, a guard was placed at the door. The place, again, was clean.
I find eavesdropping devices in about one in twenty sweeps. Women going through divorce seem to have the most possibility of being eavesdropped. Usually, pretty low tech stuff is used.
Of course, competitors spell out the most trouble for corporations. I do a lot of sweeps at hedge funds, construction corporations, accountants, and attorneys. It seems that the most problem comes from their own employees. Several employees have been fired before I swept their office. I found eavesdropping equipment in every case.
If you even question how secret items are being leaked, give me a call. I’ll go anywhere.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
A well-known NYC corporation contacted Sherlock Investigations to conduct a security check on their conference room because they were concerned that company secrets were being leaking.
I arrived for my appointment early and waited in the conference room. I quickly observed several “no-no’s.” First among them was the four speakers from which music was being piped. Speakers have the same features as microphones. It would be necessary to disconnect the speakers.
In the center of the table was a speakerphone used for conference calls. My plan was to check it thoroughly for wiretaps.
There were enormous windows overlooking Manhattan. Great view, but a laser could be aimed at those windows which would be able to pick up conversations around the conference table. Glass can act as a diaphragm such as are in microphones. Heavy curtains would have to be installed that could be drawn shut during meetings. They would also help to absorb the sound in the room.
Of course, I would have the conference room completely swept for electronic bugs. Every bug has to have a power source. It is common today to have a bug wired directly into the building’s power source. Usually, an electronic bug is placed in a wall outlet or in a lamp.
Unfortunately, employees are often the source of leaks. I would recommend that those attending meetings not bring their cell phones in to the conference room. The employees might not even knowingly be the source of the leak, but their cell phones might have been compromised. Cell phones can be used as listening devices.
You can purchase white-noise machines which do a fairly good job at masking voices, too. Some buy cellphone blockers, which are illegal in the United States.
A more elaborate security step would be to build a Faraday cage (a copper wire-enclosed room) or paint the room with RF shielding paint which is quite an expensive undertaking.
Friday, May 07, 2010
Businesses that have their offices swept for eavesdropping devices should be aware that wiretaps from the phone company's central office cannot be detected. This happens when a particular law enforcement agency, whether it be the NYPD or the FBI, convince a judge that criminal activity might be taking place. They then are able to get a court order to tap the company’s phones.
Whenever the Technical Division of Sherlock Investigations does an eavesdropping sweep to look for bugs and wiretaps, we caution potential clients that if they they are being investigated by a law enforcement agency we will will not do the sweep.
Typically, according to the FBI, they tap a phone at the phone company's central office. They then have the call forwarded to the FBI office at 26 Federal Plaza in lower Manhattan. There, they listen to the phone conversations and record them on to tape. In spite of ads shown on the Internet, when the phone tap is happening at the central office, it cannot be detected.
The Galleon Group, a hedge fund based in New York City, had their offices swept at least twice. The CEO was arrested by the FBI for insider trading last year. In this case, a former employee cooperated with the authorities, which then tapped his, and others, personal cell phones as well as residential phones. It is not clear whether the office of The Galleon Group's phones were actually tapped. If they were tapped, it would have been done at the phone company's central office.
Monday, May 03, 2010
Electronic eavesdropping sweeps can be expensive. (The Technical Division of Sherlock Investigations is in the mid-range category.) The more sophisticated the threat the more expensive sweeps can be.
In the world of corporate espionage or government espionage the devices used are extremely sophisticated. The security office of corporations and embassies often have their own sweep teams.
Most people, though, don’t deal in such high-security threats. Still, they need protection, because the threats are often real.
As often happens, an employee that leaves to join or start another company often steals secrets. Occasionally, he will bug the previous office so that information can continue to be transmitted to a listening post elsewhere.
Business partners can have a parting of the ways. Before the partner leaves, and while he still has the authority, he might have an extension of the office phone installed in his home. Just having it installed is legal. Eavesdropping is not.
In divorce situations, occasionally the wife complains that her soon-to-be-ex inexplicably knows things about her. She tells us "it's as if he tapped my phone or placed a bug in my home or car". He may have done just that.
Considering what people can learn about you, the cost of electronic sweeps is relatively inexpensive. In fact, some firms have precautionary sweeps done on a regular basis throughout the year.
Remember, Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (Bug Sweeps) is a technical skill , not an investigative one. Beware of the private investigator who uses a bug detector obtained from the Internet. Unless he is highly trained, it is useless.
If you need a skilled consultant, contact us.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Sherlock Investigations is often called to sweep vehicles.
Eavesdropping devices placed in vehicles are often dormant. A hidden cell phone is hard to detect unless it is active, or transmitting.
There are two types of GPS trackers, active and passive. An active GPS device signals where the car is at all times. It has a built-in cell phone that calls the person who placed it about every two minutes and can be tracked via a computer.
One has to actually retrieve a passive GPS unit. When it is connected to a computer it shows where the car has travelled.
Usually, GPS units only operate when the car is moving. This is meant to save the life of a battery. So, if you’re looking for a GPS on a vehicle and it is parked, there is no movement, and so the GPS unit is dormant.
The best way to sweep a car is physically. A hand-held mirror is a good tool to use. (Be sure to get a plastic one, in case you touch any wires.)
The search should be done everywhere. Under the seats, in the glove compartment, under the dash, under the fabric in the back window etc.
Under the dash there are many wires and devices you have probably never noticed before. Check for wires that are sloppily installed and do not seem to be installed by the factory. Look for extra wires going to the antenna.
Sit in the driver’s seat and look around. Check the overhead map light, and the air vents. What you are looking for is a tiny microphone.
Next, check the undercarriage of the car. A GPS unit is usually attached by a magnet, or several magnets. It will be in a black plastic box, perhaps the size of a pack of cigarettes. (Google "GPS units" so you know what to look for.) Move around the exterior of the car carefully looking in every spot of the undercarriage.
This is best done if you have a mechanic put the car up on a lift. The mechanic can then help since he knows what belongs there.
Make sure to inspect the grill and the bumpers. Remember, GPS devices can be very small.
If you have questions, or need a professional sweep, contact me.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Eavesdropping devices can be obvious and not-so-obvious. They can be as small as a grain of rice, which are mostly used by the government, or for corporate espionage. The smaller the device, the more costly it is.
Those devices that are not powered by batteries run on the building’s electrical system. Most of these are found in wall outlets. They can either be transmitting cameras or microphones.
Any good TSCM (technical surveillance countermeasures) person can locate and neutralize all of the above.
One way to see what bugging devices look like is to browse the Internet. Use search terms such as “bugging devices,” “eavesdropping devices,” or “wiretaps.” Mostly, you will see devices that are available from spy shops. Many of the bugs that are sold in spy shops come from overseas because they are illegal in the United States.
On the Sherlock Investigations web site we have a photo of a small transmitter that has a microphone. Our PDF manual, “Bug Off!”, has photos of various eavesdropping devices. It is a free download.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
When conducting a physical bug inspection, be thorough and look for anything out of the ordinary. It may be the only way to detect wired microphones, recorders, fiber optic bugs, or dormant bugs.
Research Electronics International, a leading manufacturer of counter-surveillance equipment, which has one of the foremost training facilities for Technical Surveillance Counter-Measures says, “A physical search is the root of all counter-surveillance work. It also overlaps other procedures.”
If you need a consultation or professional debugging advice please contact us.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
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Saturday, April 10, 2010
Corporate espionage is big business. Corporations have billions of dollars invested in new products, models, and research. Obviously there’s much at stake and the competition is fierce.
We’ve had many cases that involved sweeping conference rooms prior to major business meetings. Recently the Technical Division of Sherlock Investigations electronically swept a conference room in a large hotel in Washington, D.C. prior to a major pharmaceutical company’s presentation of a new drug they were about to release. They obviously did not want their competition to know about it and wanted reassurances that their competition had not gone to extremes.
We started the sweep in the empty hotel conference room at four in the morning the day of the presentation. After finding no eavesdropping devices, a guard was posted at the conference room door.
In another case, a doctor at a well-known medical center in New York called Sherlock Investigations for a sweep. But first he wanted to get a sense of who we were and our trust-worthiness. After meeting with us, and being reassured he revealed that he was on the verge of a breakthrough for a cure for AIDS, and obviously many people would want to obtain this information.
A large construction company hired us to do a sweep in one of their offices. They had hired a retired F.B.I. agent who they suspected of leaking company secrets. They fired him and immediately had two security guards escort him out of the office. He was allowed to take only his personal belongings. They quickly called us in do a sweep of his office. Tucked away behind his desk, we found a device that recorded all the phone conversations onto his computer.
Some people are paid twice. One from the company they work for and another from the company that they are spying for. In essence, double agents.
You can prevent corporate espionage by having a reliable counter-surveillance company take a look at your company and it’s security procedures. Call now us for a free consultation.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
I got a call on a Sunday from a client in Staten Island who thought her cellphone might be bugged. I asked if it was a smart phone? “No,” she replied. “Just an ordinary cellphone.” Thinking it was not bugged, I asked, “Where do you mostly talk on your phone.”
“In my car,” she said. “Maybe your car is bugged,” I said.
So I, and my equipment, headed to Staten Island. She told me she was going through a nasty divorce. Her husband owned a chain of pharmaceutical companies and traveled a lot.
Her car was parked on the street. It was a new Jeep SUV. I inspected the car top to bottom. Nothing. Sitting in the driver’s seat, I still had the feeling that the car was bugged.
I looked into the rearview mirror. Then I saw it. A burred screw on the map light just above the mirror. Knowing that it was a new car I knew that it was unlikely the bulb in the map light had been replaced. It was more likely that it had been tampered with.
I removed the two screws in the map light and found a tiny microphone and small circuit board—about the size of a postage stamp—with two wires leading from them. One wire went to the battery, and the other went to a cellphone hidden in the roof.
When the estranged husband wanted to listen in to his wife on her cellphone, he would call the hidden cellphone. Of course, it didn’t ring. If his wife was in the car at the time and on her phone, he could listen to her side of the conversation.
I cut the wires and removed the phone. All the numbers he called from on trips around the country were registered on the phone. My client told me that two weeks ago her husband had taken the car in for “servicing.” She thought he was being uncharacteristically nice.
I gave the bug and my written report to the client. I don't know the outcome of the divorce, or of the illegal bugging.
A physical inspection is necessary in finding potential hidden eavesdropping devices. If you need a free consultation please contact me.
Friday, April 02, 2010
We are so used to surveillance cameras. They are everywhere: in stores, businesses, elevators, lobbies, schools, and on the street. They are for our protection—a deterrent of sorts. Police use surveillance video to help solve crimes.
These cameras are visible and public, and they are used for good. However, hidden cameras obtained from spy shops or the Internet may, unfortunately, not be used for good.
Sometimes disgruntled spouses, landlords, building superintendents, employers or neighbors install them to spy on you. They are installed in bathrooms, dressing rooms and bedrooms—places where you expect, and rightfully so, to have privacy.
There are two versions of hidden cameras: hard-wired or wireless. Hard-wired cameras operate off the building’s wiring. Sometimes they have a cable going to a monitor, and often, to a recording device such as a DVR. Sometimes hard-wired cameras transmit images through the air to a receiver, which includes a monitor and recorder.
Wireless cameras operate on a small battery or batteries, and they transmit the video through the air to a monitor or recording device nearby. The thing you need to know with wireless cameras is that someone has to change the battery every day or so, which means they need free-access to the area where the device is positioned.
Cameras can be hidden in many places, i.e. clock radios, wall clocks, electrical outlets, paintings, plants, books, and sprinklers, just to name a few. The only limit is the imagination of the perpetrator.
It is illegal to place a hidden camera in an area where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. The planting of the camera may also require the illegal act of trespassing.
Hidden camera finders can be purchased on the Internet for as little as $89. The Spyfinder Camera Detector is one of the ones I use in my work. It looks for the camera lens. It can detect hard-wired and wireless cameras, even if the power is turned off or the battery is dead. As is in all things, it is important to know how to use it.
If you suspect there is a hidden camera in your residence, office or car, contact me. I can detect it and remove it. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you who put it there, but you probably have a suspect in mind.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
A few years ago it was not possible to bug a cell phone. Now, smart cell phones are like miniature computers, and like computers, it is possible to install spyware (aka malware) on them.
If you suspect that spyware has been placed on your smart cell phone it is possible for the person who installed it to download your email, photos, chats, and address book. They will know where you are (or at least where your phone is), and even remotely be able to turn your camera on to see what it sees.
With installed spyware, even if you have turned your cell phone off, it can be switched on from anywhere. The microphone can then pick up any sounds within a few feet of the phone, without you being aware of it, and effectively let the caller listen in on conversations in the room or vehicle.
If someone targets your phone, the spyware can be electronically installed when you open an attachment to your email, when you text, or even via your Bluetooth, if you use one.
Once spyware gets installed on to your smart phone, it's impossible to tell who placed it there. And what's more, it cannot be removed. The only thing that can be done is replace the phone.
If law enforcement taps your cell phone they usually do it through the phone company's switching station. By the way, if you are breaking the law, the authorities are within their rights to bug your phone, therefore enabling them to detect where you are. If you buy a prepaid cell phone you are not invulnerable. The authorities have ways to track your identity through your purchase, even if you pay cash.
If you are concerned about your cell phone being "bugged", it is better to use an "old-fashioned" cell phone, not a smart phone. If you do have a smart phone, never give your number to anyone whom you don't completely trust.
And...never say anything on a phone, landline or cell, that you wouldn't want the world to know about.
Thursday, February 04, 2010
Whatever you call it, it's sometimes necessary. If you meet someone online you research/investigate them. If you're going to invest money in a company, you research/investigate them.
Researching something online has gotten easier since the advent of Google and Wikipedia. Before most people knew that you could do it, we used to enter phone numbers in Google and get the subscriber's name and address, and charge $50 for it. Now, most people know about it. Google doesn't have most people's unlisted number so people still come to Sherlock Investigations for that.
Google and Wikipedia have almost everything about everything. You have to be careful with Wikipedia. Anyone can edit it. I've been in Wikipedia for several years. Some of the things it says about me simply aren't true. I used to change them, but someone would change them back again. Now, I don't bother.
One site says I converted to Orthodox Judaism. It's simply not true.
You have to be very, very careful when researching/investigating online. Get at least two sources, but be sure they didn't get the information from each other.
If there is misinformation about you online, forget about correcting it. Anything on the Internet is like Pandora's Box. Perhaps one way to cover your tracks is put a lot of false information about yourself on the Internet. Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Then someone researching you will not know what to think. Obviously, some of the info is wrong.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Using tools you probably already have, you can locate bugs yourself in your home, small office, and car. Best of all, the manual is fully illustrated, so you know what to look for. (Most people don't know what a bug looks like.)
Step-by-step, Bug Off! leads you through the steps you must take. Any TSCM (Technical Surveillance Counter-Measure) person will tell you that the most important part of a sweep is the physical inspection.
If your not a do-it-yourself person don't feel bad. We can come in and doing for you. We'll go anywhere, worldwide.