23 December 2020
Lisa J. Ribacoff

Lisa Ribacoff is the manager and head polygraph examiner of International Investigative Group and Indepth Polygraphs. She is highly certified and experienced in conducting polygraph exams and credibility assessments, meaning that she can detect lies without the use of any lie detection machine. You may also recognize her from Vanity Fair’s viral celebrity lie detector tests.


Lisa Ribacoff holds a Bachelors of Science in Childhood Education/Special Education from SUNY Old Westbury as President of the Student Government Association. She also holds a Masters of Science in Educational Leadership and Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University. Currently, Ms. Ribacoff is enrolled in a Masters of Science for Criminal Justice Program at Boston University.

Lisa Ribacoff is also a graduate of the Academy for Scientific Investigative Training and holds numerous Advanced Polygraph Certifications with accreditation from the American Polygraph Association, the National Polygraph Association and the British & European Polygraph Association (BEPA). During her polygraph education, Ms. Ribacoff studied under Dan Ribacoff, her father, one of the top polygraph experts in the world and polygraph examiner for The Steve Wilkos Show.


Lisa Ribacoff conducts polygraph testing for criminal accusations, employee theft, insurance fraud, family issues, abuse allegations, media, and much more. She is a member of the American College of Forensic Examiners, American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM International) and serves on The Board of Directors for the American Polygraph Association. Ms. Ribacoff has been with International International Investigative Group for over 10 years and has found the truth for thousands of clients during her time with the firm.

In the Media

Lisa Ribacoff has conducted polygraphs on TV for Good Day New York and has appeared in numerous Vanity Fair episodes, in which she conducts polygraph exams on notable celebrities, including Kevin Hart, Wiz Khalifa, Jennifer Lawrence, and many more.

Kevin Hart:

Wiz Khalifa:

Jennifer Lawrence:

21 December 2020
Private Investigations Boca Raton

Dan Ribacoff is the Founder and CEO of International Investigative Group. He is an expert private investigator and is one of the top polygraph examiners in the world. He is also a TV personality as the polygraph examiner for The Steve Wilkos Show and has made appearances conducting polygraphs on numerous TV shows, such as Impractical Jokers, Brain Games, and many more. In addition to this, he is an award-winning author for his novel, I Spy, How to be your own Private Investigator.


Dan Ribacoff was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 1959. As an infant, his family moved to the United States, living in New York City. After graduating from Forest Hills High School, Ribacoff went into the the family diamond business, but found his true passion in law enforcement when serving as an auxiliary police officer for the city of New York. In 1990, he founded the International Investigative Group, Ltd. and later founded his polygraph company, Indepth Polygraphs. He still runs both companies as the acting CEO to this day. He currently resides in Long Island, New York and Boca Raton, Florida with his wife.

Private Investigator

Dan Ribacoff and the International Investigative Group have been ranked as one of the top 15 investigators in the United States. Ribacoff and his firm have solved over 10,000 cases in their 30-year tenure. Some of the biggest include the recovery of the Hudson Truck Robbery, in which $8.1 million was recovered (the second largest recovery in US history) and a technical investigation and trial preparation of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. The private investigation work of Dan Ribacoff and his expert team has been featured on CNN, Inside Edition, The Dr. Oz Show, and Good Day New York.

Polygraph Examiner

When it comes to polygraphs, Dan Ribacoff is simply the best in the business. With extensive polygraph training from the Marston Polygraph Academy, the United States Department of Defense, and the American Polygraph Association, he was educated and trained in the utilization of Analog, Lafayette, Axciton and Limestone Technologies Computer Polygraph hardware.

Dan Ribacoff’s polygraph work has put countless murderers, rapists, and thieves behind bars and has also cleared the names of countless more innocent people who were falsely accused. Because of his extensive and excellent work in conducting polygraphs for 18b and Criminal Justice Act Federal Court matters, he was named Man of the Year by the NYPD Honor Legion in 1991; an honor he shares with many well-respected individuals, including Senator John McCain, Mayor Gulianai, and Mayor Koch.


As a TV personality, Dan Ribacoff is most famous for his role as the polygraph examiner on The Steve Wilkos Show since the show started in 2007. His extensive knowledge, professionalism, and witty one-liners when appearing on camera are what have made him the most desired and respected polygraph examiner in show-business. He has also made appearances on The Today Show, Brain Games, Basketball Wives, and delivered this hysterical punishment to Murr on Impractical Jokers:

In addition to his numerous guest-appearances, Dan Ribacoff had his own show in Europe for a brief period of time, The Lie Detective. In this reality show, Ribacoff would sit down with couples or ex-couples and have them ask a series of questions to each other while they were hooked up to a polygraph machine. For the first time, these people were 100% honest with each other.


In 2016, Dan Ribacoff released his novel, I Spy, How to be your own Private Investigator. A quick and easy read, the book covers how to conduct surveillance, lie detection, background checks, and even how to disappear off the grid. In addition to his advice and “how-to’s”, Ribacoff includes real stories from his time in the field. With this book, you will be able to do basic investigations on your own and be more aware of your surroundings.

If you need professional assistance for any type of corporate/private investigation, physical security, or cyber security, do not hesitate to contact us at, or at (212) 987-0808

17 December 2020

Earlier this December, Dan Ribacoff, CEO of International Investigative Group and Indepth Polygraphs, was interviewed by Alex Hazard of ABC 50 to discuss their time on The Steve Wilkos Show and Ribacoff’s role as a Polygraph Examiner on the show.

See the full interview here:

Dan Ribacoff’s Credentials:

To begin the interview, Hazard asks Dan Ribacoff to discuss his impressive professional career and credentials. Ribacoff explained that he has specialized in private investigation since 1990 and that he is also an expert in both polygraph examination (Lie detector tests) and credibility assessments (Determining whether or not someone is telling the truth through physical and verbal signs, without the use of a polygraph machine. See How to Tell When Someone is Lying). This is why he has been famously nicknamed “The Lie Detective” and had his own TV show in Europe with that very title.

Conducting Polygraphs on The Steve Wilkos Show:

While it may seem like conducting a polygraph exam is as simple as hooking someone up to a machine, asking them questions and then BOOM, you know if they’re lying or telling the truth… it’s not. During the interview, Hazard asks Dan Ribacoff to walk through the process of how the show uncovers the truth for each story that comes their way.

Ribacoff claims that there is a specific strategy that he uses in order to obtain the most accurate polygraph results. First, is the conversational period, where he sits down with the person he is polygraphing and speaks to them about the situation they are being asked about to gain a better understanding of the story and get early signs that the subject is either lying or telling the truth. Next comes the medical test, where the person is deemed physically and mentally fit to take a polygraph exam and is tested to make sure that he/she is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as this can skew the polygraph results. The final phase before conducting the the actual polygraph exam is the background intake phase, where Ribacoff will ask the subject about their criminal or relationship history to see if they have ever been accused of the same thing before in the past. If they have, it’s normally a prelude that they may be guilty of what they are being accused of doing.

Dan Ribacoff then stated that this conversational period is actually what takes up most amount of time when conducting polygraphs. The part that Ribacoff calls “getting the charts”, where the person is hooked up to the polygraph machine and asked a series of yes or no questions, actually only takes about 3-5 minutes per round. Ribacoff states that he typically does about 3-4 rounds of the same questions with the subject to ensure that the most accurate results possible are obtained.

The Accuracy of Polygraphs:

While there are numerous myths about the accuracy of polygraphs and their permissibility, Dan Ribacoff explains that polygraphs are a proven and accurate science. Polygraphs have been experimented with and optimized over the past 100 years, since their initial conception in 1921. Dan Ribacoff, who is a certified member of the American Polygraph Association, claims that the most accurate form of polygraph examinations is 99.4% accurate, which is more accurate than most medical tests!

While on the subject of medical tests, Ribacoff also explains that polygraphs can be classified as a scientifically proven medical test, as it includes the use of medical instruments to test for physiological changes in a subject when making a past-event-based statement. While there may be skeptics and critics of polygraphs, you can’t argue with science. Especially with a science that has been globally tested and has even been tested and approved for accuracy by the United States Military.

Are the Stories that Appear on Steve Wilkos Show Real or Fake?

Dan Ribacoff, who has been the head polygraph examiner on The Steve Wilkos Show for every season since its debut in 2007, has confirmed that all of the stories that appear on the show are in-fact real. While not all of these recordings make it on the air, Ribacoff states that most people who come onto the show actually wind up telling the truth on when taking polygraphs. Alex Hazard then adds in that the episodes that include people lying and getting caught make for better TV, which is why they are aired more and why it may seem like most people lie on the show.

Dan Ribacoff also explained how himself and The Steve Wilkos Show have gotten to the bottom of some very serious abuse and sexual assault cases, which often involve children. In the interview, Ribacoff stated that a lot of his polygraph results have led to the arrest and conviction of some of the guests who were proven guilty of committing criminal acts while on the show. In addition to this, he states that he has also used his polygraph results to prove the innocence of some of the show’s guests as well when falsely accused of committing criminal acts.

Getting Help From The Steve Wilkos Show

At the end of the interview, Dan Ribacoff and Alex Hazard went over how to get in contact with The Steve Wilkos Show for help with anything from a relationship issue to a criminal issue that requires a polygraph exam. To get in contact with the show, go to or call 1-888-STEVE-07 (783-8307)

27 September 2020
Manhattan Private Investigators New York

Private Investigators Nassau County Private investigations long island private investigators nassau county

Private Investigators Manhattan have to start somewhere. The inception of the International Investigative Group occurred 29 years ago in Rockville Centre, New York. Daniel Ribacoff (founder and CEO of the firm) paired his experience in both law enforcement and business to undertake investigations that pertained to robberies and fraudulent claims. From here, the IIG brand was born. The network of agents and staff employed globally continues to grow to this day.

Our 2nd Office is in New York Private Investigations office is currently located at 1350 Avenue of the Americas, 2nd Floor, New York City NY 10019. The City of New York is located at the mouth of the Hudson River and is recognized as the most influential and largest American metropolis. New York City is a collection of many neighborhoods scattered among five key boroughs: Staten Island, Queens, the Bronx, Nassau County, and Manhattan. NYC is home to a wide array of prominent landmarks, including:

  • The Statue of Liberty, which is located on liberty island.
  • The Chrysler building, which is located in midtown, Manhattan.
  • The metropolitan opera house on Broadway.
  • Times Square, which is considered the busiest area of New York.
  • Radio City Music Hall (the showplace of the nation), which is located in the Rockefeller Center.

Investigations Manhattan

Nassau County Private Investigators & Private Investigations

55 Maple Avenue Suite #304, Rockville Centre, NY 11570 in Nassau County South Shore

(516) 764-3242 / Fax (800) 863-3374map-image

Private Investigation Services We Offer in Nassau County

  • Personal and Domestic Investigations Manhattan: If you want to safeguard your family, our personal and domestic investigation team can help you avoid theft, fraud, and other forms of home-related criminal problems.
  • Polygraphs/Lie Detector Testing Manhattan: Polygraph tests combine physiological measurements with interrogation to determine if an individual is telling the truth. We specialize in Title IX Polygraphs and InDepth Polygraphs.
  • Emergency Special Risk Claims Manhattan: We provide private investigation services to facilitate emergency special risk claims, such as furriers block claims, surety bond claims, arson, and more.
  • Corporate and Business Investigations Manhattan: From hostile takeovers to insider dealing, we can conduct full corporate and business investigations into organizations and companies worldwide.
  • Insurance Fraud Claims Manhattan: Insurance fraud refers to acts committed to defraud an insurance process. Some claimants may try to obtain some benefit they are not entitled to. Leave it to IIGPI to find out the truth!
  • Surveillance Investigation Services Manhattan: Do you need to document the whereabouts and/or activities of a person or group? Our surveillance investigation team can help obtain information to be used in the court.
  • Forensic Investigator Services Manhattan: We provide eDiscovery, smartphone forensics, and computer forensics investigation services for fast-growing organizations. Security and Armed Guard Services: IIGPI is authorized to provide security and armed guard officers for individuals, private companies, and even government agencies.

Why Should You Work with International Investigative Group in Manhattan:?

At International Investigative Group, we have over 29 years of experience providing private investigation services for a wide variety of personal, corporate, legal, financial, and insurance matters. Since our inception in 1990, we have achieved and maintained a reputable track record of a 99% success rate. Additionally, we have helped solved over 10,000 cases. Our company was founded by Daniel Ribacoff, who has experience in investigating robberies and fraudulent claims. As one of the top 15 investigators in the U.S., IIGPI’s private detectives are trusted by Forbes Top 500 Members, top law firms, and Fortune 500 Companies. What’s more, our team is comprised of former law enforcement agents.

14 August 2020

There are various risks that you face anywhere that you go. Whether you’re in the city or in the sticks, thousands of miles from home or just down the street, dangerous situations can always present themselves. Ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, ex-wives/husbands, former employees, or even complete strangers. Anyone can pose a threat or seek to intimidate at any time, so it’s important to always be prepared. Just like the Boy Scouts. In this post, I will be teaching you the best ways to protect yourself and others.

There are usually indicators that your safety may be compromised—the guy at the deli is being especially pesky, that creepy guy keeps on popping up on your route during your morning run, your rabbit’s been boiled. You get the idea. You’ll have a spidey-sense that something isn’t right, even if you’re not entirely sure what it is. That’s your human intuition. Don’t just ignore it with rationalization because you’re “in a good neighborhood”.

Dan Ribacoff‘s 3 Personal Protection Principles:

  1. Constant awareness
  2. Scanning your environment
  3. Taking proper precautions

Constant Awareness

Some people are completely oblivious. You could tail them for 100 miles and they would never notice. Others are on the complete opposite side of the spectrum and become alert the second that someone walks near them or drives behind them for more than a few minutes. They have constant awareness. If you were a stalker, whom would you follow, Mr. Ignorant or Mr. Cognizant? Exactly. By being aware, you make yourself so much more protected than you would be otherwise. You can’t just walk around like everything’s rosy all the time with your headphones in, because situations change based on who you are, where you are, and even when you are (The New York City subway is a lot safer at 9:00 AM than it is at 11:00 PM). It’s time to raise your level of awareness, especially if you suspect that you’re being harassed, followed, or stalked.

Just as the United States Government has its yellow, orange, and red threat levels, you need to have those as well. I once had a client who’s daughter’s college boyfriend was staying with them over the summer to take some classes, as they lived much closer to the university. My client said that his daughter was head over heals for this guy and him and his wife liked him too—he’s a nice kid, and his father’s a police chief. Sound’s like a match made in heaven, right? Wrong. Systematically, money started to go missing from my client’s house. He then noticed that his wife’s jewelry and the pills in medicine cabinet started to go missing as well. I told him he should have called me the first time that something went missing, and I would’ve hidden cameras installed. “Yeah,” he said, “but I didn’t want to believe it.” If my client would have raised his level of awareness the first time something went missing, he could have solved the problem much sooner and caught the runt red-handed.

Scanning Your Environment

Arson, acts of terrorism, street crime—these are all dangers that we face in today’s world. You have to be mindful of your surroundings not only for your own protection, but also to protect others as well. I see so many people with their head buried in their phones, totally oblivious to everything going on around them. They concentrate more on what they are doing rather than what’s going on in the environment around them and call it “multi-tasking”. The human mind can only do so many tasks at a time before it overloads itself, so it’s important to focus on your personal safety in addition to your twitter feed or what you’re planning on having for dinner. Think tactically:

  1. Locate all exits: Whenever you enter a building, familiarize yourself with the location of all the nearest entrance and exit points (The same way that you would on an airplane).
  2. Use your peripheral vision: When I’m walking around a city or on a main, busy street, I am always using my peripheral vision. It may seem like I’m looking into a store window, but I’ll actually be using the reflection in the glass to see what’s going on behind me.
  3. Plan Scenarios: Ask yourself, “If something dangerous were to happen right now, how would I find safety?” Would you have a plan? Would you know what to do?

Taking Proper Precautions

On an average day, your personal threat level is on yellow. Even if you’re sitting in a police station, you don’t know if some lunatic is going to come in with an AK-47 (he would be Swiss cheese in a matter of seconds, but you get the point). That’s why it’s alway best to maintain a routine state of alertness. It’s no different than keeping a jack in your car; you want to be prepared just in case. However, if you feel you’re being stalked or followed, your everyday state of awareness needs to be raised and accompanied by a call to action:

  • Seek Help: Obviously, locate a police officer. That’s what the police are there for. They don’t charge and you pay taxes, so don’t be afraid to approach one. If there are no officers around, duck into the nearest restaurant, store, or place where there are lots of people around. Tell the clerk, security guard, somebody bigger than you who looks respectable, “This guy is following me.” Most people are willing to help somebody in distress. If you’re in the car and and feel like you’re being tailed, dial 911, describe the car that’s following you as best as you can (make, model, color, any digits of the license plate that you can see). Make sure to keep moving to avoid getting boxed in. You can even drive to the nearest precinct if you know where that is. If you’re on the highway, go to a rest area with restaurants and a gas station.
  • Alter your Schedule: The more predictable you are, the easier you are to find. Leave at different times to go to work. Use different entry and exit points of a building. Take a later train.
  • Vary your Routes: Mix it up a little bit! Cross the street when you don’t necessarily have to (remember to look both ways). Stop and look in a store window for a few seconds. If you find that a certain person is always there, even if you change up your walking speed or route, seek help immediately. The same goes for driving as well. When I was a jewelry salesman, I often had to check for tails, so I would never go directly from jeweler to jeweler. These days, however, a stalker has the ability to track your car with GPS, which is illegal. Normally a GPS will be in the form of a magnet stuck under your car, so take a look underneath or bring it to a mechanic or even a bug-sweeper to take a look as well.
  • Change up your Appearance: If you want a good way to throw off a tail, you can change up your look every day. I had a client in the diamond business who would come to and from work every day in a bunch of different wigs, hats, sunglasses, baggy clothes, etc. and it worked to perfection. Refrain from wearing any signature items that might give you away, like an Indiana Jones fedora or big-rimmed sunglasses.
  • Dress Appropriately: If you’re going to wear a pencil skirt and 4 inch heels, you’re not going to be able to protect yourself or run away from anybody.
  • Protect your Personal Space: This is very important. The space between you and another person should be an arm’s length at the very least. Why? Personal space gives you reaction time. Think of when you’re driving a car and someone is right up your tail. If you hit the brakes, bang. Same with personal space—if a person is walking too closely to you, you have less time to react if he or she tries to physically harm you.
  • Make a Scene: You shouldn’t be afraid to scream or make a commotion when you feel immediately threatened. The police won’t arrest you for jumping up and down like a lunatic, but it will certainly get their attention. When you draw attention, the bad guys lose the element of surprise, and their natural reaction is flight.

Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is a useful and nonlethal self-defense weapon. It is also perfectly legal to carry if you are 18 or older (just don’t carry it onto an airplane or into any stadium or arena). An inflammatory agent, pepper spray, which typically comes in canisters, is a chemical compound that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and temporary blindness. It is often confused with mace, which is an irritant and is not legal for personal use.

Pepper spray can render an assailant for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. The police use it, mail carriers use it, and civilians should most definitely carry it, especially women living alone or taking public transportation at night. You can purchase it at any local sporting goods store, drugstore, gun dealership, or online.

It’s important that you receive some pepper spray training because pepper spray can be used against you as well. There are several rules to effectively using pepper spray:

  1. Aim for the chest. Your initial reaction may to be to go for your assailant’s head, but the head is a much smaller target. Rather, aim for the chest and then tilt up from there.
  2. After you pepper-spray the assailant, get out of there. Run, scream, yell. You don’t have to stick around, nor should you.
  3. Pepper spray doesn’t belong at the bottom of your purse or backpack. Keep it in your coat pocket for quick and easy use if you do need to protect yourself.
  4. Be mindful of the wind! You can actually spray yourself if the wind is blowing towards you.
  5. If you do end up getting pepper sprayed—either from wind blowback or your assailant using it against you—rinse your eyes thoroughly with fresh running water. When I was in the police academy and working as a reserve, the higher-ups would ask the cadets, “Why did you stick that guy’s head in a toilet bowl and flush?” The answer, “He got pepper-sprayed! Plenty of fresh running water!” Cop humor.

Don’t be a Bling-A-Ling


When you advertise, you usually get clients, so always keep your valuables at home or under wraps. Who is a thug going to rob: An upper-middle-class woman with the diamond ring and an expensive suit or some lady who looks like she’s borderline homeless? The nicer you look, the more likely you are to attract attention, and cellphones are just as much of a target as jewelry, so keep them out of sight.

Common Household Items

When it comes to self-defense, a weapon is not really a weapon until you use it as such, and many common household items can moonlight as weapons when needed to protect yourself:

  • Keys
  • A rolled up magazine
  • Handbags
  • Belts
  • Umbrellas (my personal favorite)


No normal person wants to fight, but if you’re attacked, you need to win and you need to win quickly. You want to render your assailant incapacitated or injured, and leave quickly. Achieving this can be relatively easy if you know where to strike. There are various places of vulnerability on the human body. Use them:

  • Groin: The old tried and true. The groin offers a great target, especially for close encounters when most people are focused on the upper body. Always try to hit low first—bam with a knee strike. At the very least, your assailant will step back in pain, increasing your space and reaction time. And if you’re grabbed from behind, reach back and go for the “family jewels”. Squeeze and twist!
  • Throat: In a life or death situation, it doesn’t matter how big you are, you can’t protect your Adam’s apple, even if you’re a professional UFC fighter or an NFL linebacker. It only takes about 3 pounds of pressure to break a trachea, and you can’t strengthen it in any way like you can a bicep or pectoral muscle. If you ever find yourself in a situation where someone is on top of you and choking you, go on the offensive and hit their Adam’s apple as hard as you can or grab their trachea and try to crush it.
  • Brachial Plexus: The brachial plexus is a bundle of nerves that runs down the side of the neck and through the shoulders; it controls movement and feeling for arms forearms and hands. By striking it with a fist or the side of your hand, you can interrupt motor activity and cause temporary dysfunction and near paralysis to that side of the upper body. All you have to do is aim right for the spot where the neck and shoulder meet. Like the throat, there is no way to protect it.
  • Fingers: Snap the pinky or ring finger. When you break someone’s finger, they may lose the will to fight. In a life or death situation, you can even use your teeth to bite off someone’s finger if you really have to. It only takes the the amount of pressure that it would take to bite through a carrot.
  • Nose: If you’re grabbed from behind, throw your head back and head-butt the assailant’s nose. Being hit in the nose is incredibly painful and will cause the assailant’s eyes to tear up, temporarily blinding them.
  • Eyes: If the bad guy can’t see, he can’t harm you. If someone is on top you and trying to harm you, use your thumbs to gouge their eyes out. Start in the corners by the nose and apply pressure. Do what you need to do to be safe.

Staying Safe from Shootings

Unfortunately, nowadays, we have to contend with all kinds of shootings—mall shootings, street shootings, school shootings—and it’s imperative that we learn how to protect ourselves. In order to do this, we have to mentally prepare ourselves and our families to know what to do and what to look for before and incident takes place, because once it does, there’s no time to think.

  • Cover: Most people freeze when they see or hear gunfire. The best thing that you can do his get behind something to shield the fire:
    • Fire hydrant: Although it won’t protect you fully, you can squat down and turn sideways behind a fire hydrant, making you a much smaller target.
    • The engine part of a car: Duck down and huddle behind the front of a car by the front tire. A bullet can’t penetrate an engine block and the tire will shield you from any ricochets.
    • Brick wall: Most walls are sheet rock and won’t protect you from a bullet. You want to hide behind solid wall of brick, concrete, etc.
    • Lie Down Flat: If you can’t find cover, try to lie flat on the ground and protect your head with your arms. It’s better to take a bullet to the arm than the head. If you are shot, the best thing you can do is play dead.
  • Concealment: If you can’t find cover, the best way to protect yourself is to look for concealment. Look for something to hide behind that will keep you hidden. Bad. guys typically don’t shoot what they cannot see.
  • Empower your children: When I was a kid, we had nuclear drills and fire drills. Today, there should be numerous shooting drills taught in all schools. Unfortunately, most schools are unprepared when this occurs and the first thing they yell is “Everybody hide in the closet!”. While it may work, we can instead teach our children to protect themselves with simple techniques in the unlikely even that a school shooting occurs:
    • Knowing exit points of the building
    • Run as far away as possible from the source of the gunfire as fast as possible
    • Knowing safe and concealing hiding places
    • Knowing to use their resources for cover or concealment (turning over tables, desks, etc.)

How we can Protect You


Here at The International Investigative Group, we have a team of licensed agents who are highly trained and experienced in both security and protection. Our team of former law enforcement has been protecting our clients with a a variety of armed and unarmed services for over 30 years.

If you need professional assistance for any type of corporate/private investigation, physical security, or cyber security, do not hesitate to contact us at, or at (212) 987-0808

10 August 2020

When you hire someone, you’re not just giving them a job. You’re allowing them to be a member of your team, believing in them to bring something special to the table, and relying on them to represent your business the right way. When considering the magnitude of your responsibility to your business and your employees to hire the right person for the position, a background check on every candidate that you’re considering is absolutely essential… But what sort of things should you be looking out for on these background checks? Dan Ribacoff, an expert private investigator, describes the top 5 things to do before hiring someone:

#1. Are They Really Who They Say They Are?

Let’s say that you put out an ad that your business is in need of a new Operations Manager. You’re searching and searching, but you just can’t find a good fit for the job. Finally, you get an application for the position and the candidate’s resume says that they graduated at the top of their class from Harvard with a 4.0 GPA, they’ve had tons of work experience in operations, they’ve done charity work in South America, and they’re proficient in 3 different languages. Sounds like the perfect man/woman for the job, right? Not really… Odds are that pretty much none of that stuff is true.

According to an employment screening benchmark study, 85% of job applicants lie on their resumes in some way or another. While most of those lies are only small exaggerations that don’t make a huge difference, there are still quite a few applicants who will forge their entire resume to land a job that they are in no way qualified for. According to Dan Ribacoff, in addition to a background or reference check, a good strategy to spot the frauds is to ask each applicant to walk you through their resume as one of the first few interview questions, then ask detailed questions about each aspect of the their resume or LinkedIn profile. He states, “You can easily tell who knows their stuff from memory and who is making it up as they go if you’re really looking out for it.”

#2. Criminal Record Search


The last thing you want to do is hire the next Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. A lot of employers forget the importance of looking up candidates’ criminal records, so sometimes they have to learn the hard way. If you hire someone who was arrested for embezzling funds from the firm that they used to work for, what’s to stop them from doing it again to your firm? If a guy was charged with sexual harassment or sexual assault, do you really want that guy working in the same office as all of your female employees? These are things that you have to be aware of when you are making your hiring decisions because you never truly know what people are capable of. As an employer, recruiter, or human resources professional, it is your responsibility to make sure that everyone you hire does not pose a threat to your business or the well-being of your employees and customers.

#3. Drug Tests

Drug testing your candidates or even current employees is a great way to uncover more about who you’re hiring. If you run small business, like an ice cream shop, and hire high school or college kids part-time, don’t have high hopes for negative test results. However, if you are a firm that only hires professionals with high forms of education and industry experience, drug tests can be a useful tool to ensure that you are hiring serious and healthy candidates.

In most states, drug testing applicants is completely legal as long as the applicant is made aware that the drug test is just a part of the interview process. Drug testing prior to the offering of the position is allowed sometimes, but most of the time, the applicant is offered the position first, so it’s normally the final step of the hiring process. A simple urine test is relatively inexpensive and is all that is necessary. It can detect marijuana use up to a month prior and harder drugs 3-7 days prior, which may not seem like a lot, but if someone can go without addictive drugs for over a week, it means that they are not regular users, nor are they dependent on them.

#4. Social Media Analysis


Taking a look at a job candidate’s instagram is a great way to learn more about their personal life and what they do outside of the office. A lot of the time, you’ll be surprised at what you may find. A lot of people think that what they post on social media stays private between them and their friends/followers, so they’re more likely to post things that truly represent who they are and how they feel about certain things.

Let’s take a second to look (and laugh) at some big social media mistakes that employees and job applicants have made:

Bonehead #1
Bonehead #2
Bonehead #3
Bonehead #4
Bonehead #5

#5. Prior Employment Verification

Listing 2-3 references are a standard part of any interview process and provide a great perspective on how others felt as their employer. The biggest problem that we’ve seen is that often times, candidates will lie about their reference: they’ll give you contact information of their former employer, but the phone number that you call will actually be the phone number of a friend or family member who will pretend to be their reference and will provide them with a stellar that they would not have gotten otherwise.

There are 2 different but effective steps in conducting prior employment verification to get the most accurate information about a job candidate. The first is to verify that the contact information given to you is real. You can do this by calling the number and speaking to the person and asking clarifying questions about their business, emailing the reference at a verified company email address, or even meeting the reference in person. The second step is to use their resume to contact previous employers who were not listed as references. Obviously, if the candidate was fired from a job or an employer had a negative experience with them, they will not list them as a reference, so you’ll have to do some research in contacting them, but by contacting non-listed references, you can uncover things that the candidate planned on leaving out of their application.

What We Can Do For You


After reading this, you can tell how much time and effort goes into screening just one candidate. We know that as a working professional, you may not have the time to do all of the things listed above, so we’re here to help. Here at International Investigative Group, we have over 30 years of experience in conducting background checks, drug tests, criminal history searches, social media analysis, prior employment verification, education verification, financial checks, and much more! Feel free to check out our Pre Employment Screening Services.

If you need professional assistance for any type of corporate/private investigation, physical security, or cyber security, do not hesitate to contact us at, or at (212) 987-0808
5 August 2020

According to Dan Ribacoff, a break in is defined as: When one or more persons illegally forces entry into a home or private property, usually to cause harm to others or to engage in further illegal activity. Most break in attempts are targeted, meaning that an intruder normally doesn’t just break into a random home or place of business. There is almost always a motive for their actions. During my 30 years of being a private investigator, I’ve seen and solved numerous break in cases that occurred for many different reasons:

1. Burglary

When you think of an intruder breaking into a home or place of business, you immediately think of burglary and you should. It’s very common (A burglary occurs in the United States every 26 seconds). Most home/business break in cases involve the attempted theft of physical items or even electronic information stored on a computer. On average, these burglaries end up costing victims roughly $2800. Luckily, in the past 10 years, the amount of burglaries in the United States have drastically decreased, most likely due to the increase in burglary preventative technology, such as home security products like Ring.

2. Revenge

More often than not, the intruder actually knows the victim who’s home or business they are breaking into. Most of the time, they are doing it to get back at a person who they feel wronged them in some way. I’ve seen it a lot with crazy ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends who’s relationship ended badly. In their deranged minds, these people feel that breaking into the other person’s home or business will make them even for whatever it is they believe was wrongfully done to them. If you are the victim of a break in and want to find out who did it, the first thing you should ask yourself is “Who would have a motive to hurt me/my family/my business?”.

3. Arson


If their intentions are to harm others, arsonists may break in to a home or building to cause a fire, as fires intentionally set from within a structure are much more dangerous and difficult to put out than fires set from the exterior. The most common places in a home or building where an arsonist may start a fire are in trashcans or anywhere where they can have access to flammable chemicals, such as a janitor’s closet or a laundry room. That’s why it’s important to install and maintain smoke detectors in these areas where a fire could easily be caused.

4. Abduction/Kidnapping

While it’s not incredibly common for a break in to result in an abduction or kidnapping, it does still happen and should be taken very seriously. Most commonly, a break in for kidnapping is actually done by a non-custodial parent who wants to take his/her child away from the other parent who was legally given custody. With those cases, it’s very easy to track down the intruder/kidnapper. Only a fraction of a percent of these abduction/kidnapping cases are similar to what you see or hear about in TV and movies like Taken or All the Money in the World.

5. Planting Electronic Bugs/Spy Equipment

Some people will break in to homes or buildings to spy on others to gather evidence. They’ve watched too many James Bond movies and don’t even think twice about illegally entering somewhere in order to “complete their objective”. As a licensed private investigator, I’ve planted plenty of electronic bugs and spy equipment in my day (See How to do Your Own Electronic Surveillance). There are plenty of completely legal and effective methods of electronically spying on people, but breaking in to do it is definitely not one of them. It’s a job best left to the professionals.

6. Needing a Place to Stay

This reason is sad, but unfortunately not everyone has a place to stay every night. You’ll see these cases increase in colder months, so make sure to keep your house or place of business secure during the winter months if you don’t want to wake up to a complete stranger snoozing on the couch in your living room or lobby area (You have no idea how many people break into office buildings just because of how warm and cozy their lobby looks).

Staying Protected


In order to stay protected from a break-in there are a few precautions you can take that will make an intruder think twice about illegally entering your home or business. The first would be to install motion detection cameras around the perimeter of your home or building (Bonus points if they have automatic lights that turn on when they detect motion). It’s also a good idea to install locks and alarms in all of your windows, doors, and other possible places of entry. Make sure that they ring and automatically alert the authorities when triggered. If an invader sees that they’re being captured on camera or hears an alarm going off, I’ll bet that they won’t stick around much longer.

If you need professional assistance for any type of corporate/private investigation, physical security, or cyber security, do not hesitate to contact us at, or at (212) 987-0808
3 August 2020

With so many employees suddenly working from home, often with very little time to prepare, businesses are at potential risk for a wide range of issues, including cyber crime. A lot of them are left wondering what can/should they be doing to protect their business interests, their employees and their client/customer data? What are the risks? What are the potential cyber security protections? How does business insurance come into play? To answer these questions, I had the pleasure of speaking to Dan Ribacoff, one of the world’s most foremost private investigators.

Dan Ribacoff states, “The risks of working from home are that the internet connection and computer may not be as secure as those in your office. With your office, an admin can track the internet connection and computer usage in the building, who is using it, and what they are using it for. When your employees are out and about, connected to the internet from different locations, you lose that control that you had previously.” He then explained to me that to secure important data, it is imperative that certain procedures be followed:

You should have a password protected computer

For your computer, you’ll need a password complex enough that it can’t be guessed by roommates or family members. While they may not be trying to steal your information or harm you in any way by using your computer information, they can still accidentally put your cyber security at risk. If they use your computer to access their email or do a quick Google search, they run the risk of having malware or other harmful programs downloaded on your computer if they click on something as small as a bugged link.

When creating your password, you should refrain from using commonly guessed pass-phrases, such as pet names, children’s names, birthdates, anniversaries, digits in your address/phone number, and school names. These are things that anyone can find out about you from just a quick google search. Everybody posts pictures and videos of their pets and children on their social media (I know I definitely do). The first place that a hacker will look for potential passwords is on your social media for the names of your pets and children.

After each work session, the computer should be logged off and shut down

From what I’ve seen over the years, when most people are done working on their work computer, they just turn off their monitor or put the computer in power-saving mode so they can just resume what they were working on the next day… bad move. When you do this, your computer is still logged in and running, making it much easier for a hacker to get onto your computer and access all of your data. That’s why it’s always important to double check that there are no lights coming from the computer itself when you turn it off to make sure that it is off and not on sleep mode.

The internet log in password should be complex

You may think that someone else being on your WiFi is no big deal, but in reality, it’s almost as dangerous as someone having access to your phone or your computer. Think about it… everything you do on your computer that requires an internet connection runs through your WiFi router. If a hacker is able to get on to your home Wifi, it makes it pretty easy for them to see everything you do while connected to the internet.

When setting a home WiFi password it should be practically un-guessable. Similar to setting a computer password, avoid using easily guessable passwords, such as pet names or child names. Instead, make it complete nonsense words with numbers, capital letters and special characters. Something like, RedHotPotatoSalad170% or 23BumblebeeTree!, because absolutely nobody will ever think of that.

A high quality virus scanner should be installed in the computer. When it comes to which one to download, I recommend either McAfee or Norton. I first mentioned this in a previous blog post (Identity Theft: 10 Ways to Protect your Identity), but these anti-virus services basically act as a bodyguard for your computer and all of the data that you have stored inside of it. Don’t be cheap when it comes to protecting your computer because a data breach will be a whole lot more expensive. I recommend to all employers who currently have their employees working from home to invest in anti-virus programs for all of their employees. If you are an employee, it would also be a good idea to talk to your employer about having these programs installed. They will most likely pay for the installation and it will make you look pretty good as well (Did somebody say “promotion” or “salary raise”?).

Use a VPN if possible

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, allows you to securely connect to another network through the internet. You can use them for numerous activities, such as accessing sites in other regions or countries, but in this case, it would be used to protect your IP address and browsing activities from any hackers. As stated before, if a hacker is on the same network as you, they can see what you are doing or what you access while you are connected to that network. By using a VPN, they would not be able to see which network you are using, nor would they be able to have any sort of access to it.

Do not work from any public locations that have open internet connections

Public WiFi Might Finally Become Secure After All | Hacker Noon

Sure, the WiFi at Starbucks has great internet speed and it’s a relaxing place to work and sip a Frappuccino, however, they have a public network with open internet connections, which means poor cyber security. That means that anybody within the network’s reach can join and have access. That’s why you get a little warning symbol when you join an unsecured network. The non-threatening hipster guy with the nose ring who’s sitting two tables away, with the right technology, could easily use that network to steal your information without you even knowing it. That’s why employers should not allow work to be conducted from public networks, or they should supply their employees with a VPN for their computers in order to maintain optimal cyber security for their businesses.


As far as insurance goes, speak to your broker about having adequate insurance for data breaches, ransomware or other cyber risks. These breaches can be very detrimental to your business and could really break the piggy bank. Remember when Sony Pictures was hacked in 2014? 100 terabytes of data were stolen and numerous unreleased films were leaked to the public, causing Sony to lose millions in the process. Don’t let something like that happen to you!

If you need professional assistance for any type of corporate/private investigation, physical security, or cyber security, do not hesitate to contact us at, or at (212) 987-0808
31 July 2020

Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, refers to a crime in which somebody wrongfully obtains and and uses another person’s personal data to defraud, defame, or deceive, typically for financial or economic gain. It has become one of the largest and most problematic white-collar crimes today. According to Dan Ribacoff, “With the ease and accessibility of technology and platforms like the dark web, any document or transaction has the potential to be a scam. Identity thieves conduct identity fraud, both online and off, so you have to always be ready for them. To protect your personal privacy, adopt the same vigilance as you would to protect your home and valuables.”

The Different Kinds of Identity Theft

●Financial Identity Theft: This can occur when credit reports and bank accounts are breached. It is the type of identity theft that people are often most familiar with.
●Insurance Identity Theft: You may not realize it, but this illegal practice can yield big money for criminals. Medical care is one of the hottest commodities in the United States today.
●Medical Identity Theft: Scammers visit hospitals, emergency rooms, and pharmacies to receive medical care… and you’re actually the one paying for it.
●Social Security Identity Theft: Social Security Numbers can be sold to those who need US citizen statuses, such as illegal immigrants, along with driver’s license ID numbers.
●Income Tax Fraud: Scammers use your identity and file a false tax return, claiming a refund. They receive the refund, while you get stuck with an audit by the IRS. With e-filing, they can, while sitting around in their underwear, transfer the funds straight into a bank account, then withdraw the money and close the account… causing the trail to go cold for the authorities (but not for a private investigator).

#1: Beware of Dumpster Divers

You can tell a lot about someone just by seeing what they throw away. Garbage retrieval is one of the many ways that someone can get a hold of your stuff, but this method is actually legal. That’s why you need to trash your trash can!

Most people believe that only throwing out items with personal information like their name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number is unsafe. However, any personal information is desirable to an identity thief. This includes documents that you may think nothing of, like correspondence from your child’s school, your spouse’s company, the stores that you shop at, your bank, etc. For example, if you receive a brochure from Bank of America, and a thief discovers it in your trash, he now knows where you bank and can try to deceive you:

“Hello, Mrs. Jones, my name is Sarah and, I’m calling from Bank of America to make sure that you received our flyer regarding your preferred customer status, dated March 24th. we are so thankful for your loyalty to Bank of America that we’d like to present you with an even better offer! Let me look up your account, so I can see the best interest rate that you qualify for. Would you please confirm the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number for me?”

Sounds pretty legitimate, right? The thief may already have the other digits of your Social Security Number, as they can be obtained by using commercially available databases and even some public records filings that just redact the last 4 digits. If they have that, all they have to do is connect the pieces of that number to become you on paper. The more believable a person sounds, the more likely you are to fill in the blanks for them.
In order to foil these dumpster divers, crosscut-shred, or confetti-shred, all personal documents. A crosscut shredder uses 2 contra-rotating drums to cut rectangular, parallelogram, or diamond shaped shreds, completely destroying documents so that not even Rain Man can reassemble them. Be sure to shred your personal documents and mail regularly, whether it’s when you’re watching TV or reading the Sunday paper. Make it part of your daily routine.

#2: Be Able to Spot Mail scams

You’ll find a lot of old-school conmen who still try to use snail mail to defraud someone. Here’s what they do:

Issue fake checks and money orders.
Offer fraudulent financial opportunities in the form of lottery and work from home scams.
Offer fraudulent refunds from banks

As technology has gotten better over the years, so have mail scams! Publishing software applications like Adobe Photoshop allow scammers to effortlessly create posters, brochures, and flyers that look like the real deal. That’s why it’s so important to scrutinize all correspondence that you receive by mail. Always consider the following:

Does this offer seem too good to be true?
Is it poorly or unprofessionally written?
Is the return address correct and complete?
Is is addressed to you directly or to “Dear Resident” or “Dear Sir/Madam”?
Does the company or organization even exist? (It’s as easy as a simple Google Search)
Are greetings and closings correct? Does it say “Yours Sincerely”?
Does it require you to send money or write a check? (Biggest red flag)

When in doubt, always contact the company directly. Also, to a Google Search to see where the company is headquartered, and contact the state’s secretary of state/division of corporations to make sure it is a legitimate entity.

#3: Look Over Your Shoulder

In addition to watching you at home, scammers will follow you around as you run errands or travel to and from work. Sometimes they can get close enough to glean credit card or bank card information. Once they get that, they’ll shoulder surf, or look over your shoulder as you punch in your pin or access code, or they’ll take a quick photo of your card with their phone as you slide it into the card reader. Shoulder surfing is most prevalent in crowded areas or close quarters where it’s easy to observe and not be noticed, such as the ATM vestibule of the bank. Make sure to always be aware of your surroundings when using credit/debit/bank cards and always cover the keypad when entering access codes.

#4: Be Able to Identify ATM Skimmers

ATM skimmers are pretty easy to miss at first glance, which is why they are very much a threat to your personal information. Scammers will install hidden devices, called overlays, illegally on ATMs that enable them to view your account information from a nearby computer once you insert your card. It is very important that pay attention to the condition and design of any ATM that you use. An overlay can be inserted onto any type of unit that processes ATM, debit, or credit cards. The overlays are wafer thin and may not be noticeable unless you’re really looking for them.

#5: Look Out for Monitoring Software on your Devices

Monitoring software, AKA computer surveillance software, allows for a hacker/scammer to observe and track your computer usage. As discussed in How to do Your Own Electronic Surveillance, it can be used for electronic surveillance legally if you install it on a computer that you own. However, many times these kinds of software are used for illegal purposes with malicious intent:

Malware: Software that is used to damage or disable a computer. Computer viruses are the most common example of malware.
Spyware: Software that allows hackers/scammers to monitor and steal your computer records and activities by transmitting all of your stored data onto their hard drive
Key-logging: Software that records every keystroke (button-press) made on a computer. This allows hackers to gain access to passwords or other confidential information accessed on a computer.

The best way to protect yourself from these kinds of theft-programs is to utilize services of an identity theft protection company, such as LifeLock. Sure it’s a few extra bucks a month, but it’s a lot cheaper than dealing with the repercussions of getting your identity stolen. What each identity theft protection companies will do is safeguard your credit, financial data, and your good name. Utilizing a good antivirus program on your computer would also be a wise decision. I would recommend either McAfee or Norton, which will basically act as your computer’s virtual bodyguard. These antivirus programs will detect monitoring software or viruses found on websites that you visit. Don’t be cheap when it comes to protecting your devices, it’s very much worth it!

#6: Be Careful with Peer-To-Peer File Sharing

Peer-to-peer file sharing, or P2P for short, is a very popular way to share photos, videos, documents, etc. with others online. The way it works is you download software that connects your computer to other computers that use the same software, which could potentially connect you to millions of other computers at the same time (What could possibly go wrong?). Because you’ve now open up your computer to potentially millions of strangers, it puts your information at risk of being stolen or could allow others to give your computer some nasty (and expensive to fix) viruses. It’s very important to understand the P2P software that you may use and as said before, it’s always a good idea to install a reputable security and antivirus program (Think of it as a condom for your computer).

#7: Keep Safe of Phishing

For those who are unfamiliar with it, phishing is the act of attempting to acquire sensitive and personal information like usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and Social Security numbers, by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity via a website or email address. Think of an email sender line as you would Caller ID: it announces who is trying to contact you. Scammers will disguise themselves behind credible looking names or designations in order to gain access to your personal information. Like mail scams, phishing has become more and more sophisticated over the years. Here are some warning signs that something may not be what it seems to be:

You are receiving customer notifications from a retailer or company, but you have never actually been a customer of that said company
The email is not addressed to you. Instead, it is addressed to an unknown email address or undisclosed recipients
There is an ominous warning of some kind. Some scary-sounding message, like “If you don’t respond to this email within 48 hours, we will shut down your account permanently!”
Sloppy misspellings, improper punctuation, and awkward phrasing might be present in the message sent to you. Virtually no email sent to you has perfect grammar, but phishing scams often have more than their fair share of errors.

If you suspect that you have received a fraudulent electronic communication:

Do not reply
Do not click on any provided links from the sender
Do not download or even click on any attachments
Do not copy and paste any links into your browser

Instead, do contact the organization in a separate email, by phone, or through the official website and be very cautious of where you click.

#8: Listen closely for Vishing

Vishing, or voice phishing, is the attempt to acquire sensitive and personal information via voice calls made to a landline or mobile phone. Criminals go to great lengths to convince you that they are who they say they are in order to gain access to your private personal information. They’ll say something like, “I’m calling from your gas company and we want to update our client records. Can I just verify your social before we begin?”. A security-savvy person will never give our their personal information over the phone, especially when the person you are giving it to is the person who initiated the call and asked directly for it. Always remember that banks and credit-card companies already have your information; they will never call you and ask you to recite it for them. If you get a call that you suspect may be a vishing attempt:

Tell the person that you will call them back, then call the 800 number on the back of your credit card, bill, or statement to report the call that you have received and verify that it was not actually them who called you.
As a test, offer a fake account number. If the person says “Yep, that’s correct. You’re in”, hang up and call the authorities immediately.

#9: A Word on Passwords

Passwords are one of the most secure and important lines of defense against identity theft. Every account that you have should require a password for access. That includes cell phones, banks, email addresses, credit cards, etc. It’s an extra layer of protection beyond those security questions that ask things like the name of your first pet or your father’s middle name.
When selecting a password, too many people make the mistake of choosing something personal—the name of their dog or child—because it’s easy to remember. The problem is that it’s also easy for a scammer to figure out. All they have to do is look you up on social media, find a picture of your dog, zoom in on the tag of its collar, and BOOM, they’ve got access to all of your accounts. Do you know how many people know of my dog, Harley? There might be more pictures of Harley than Kim Kardashian on the internet. If I make “Harley” my password, I may as well write out a blank check for a scammer. Some password tips:

●Make your password ridiculously stupid: FrenchToastAndKetchup1985 or MyBananaOpenApplesauce2000. Who in the world is going to think of that?
●Don’t even use real words: Try something like blickypuckanow.
●Store passwords where people cannot gain access to them: There are free apps out there called password keepers that protect your password information for you and require face/fingerprint identification to access the app. They are a lot safer than just writing it down on a piece of paper.
●Change your password regularly: People get too complacent and may have the same password for the last 30 years. However, it’s a good idea to change your password every 6-12 months. If you think there’s been a breach of any kind or you’ve clicked on a sketchy link, run a virus scan on that device and then change your password on another device incase there’s been any spyware installed on the original device.

#10: Keep your Wits when Shopping Online

There’s no denying the ease and convenience of online shopping. Who wants to go out to the store in the cold rain or snow to buy a Valentine’s Day gift when all you have to do is click a few buttons on your computer or smartphone? However, online shopping has its hazards and cautions, so it’s important to shop smart—this means not only knowing the best sites to to buy shoes on, but also how to avoid the perils of identity theft:

Make sure the retail stores that you shop with are legitimate. Always manually type in URLs and email addresses
Use your credit card rather than your debit card. Credit cards will protect you against fraud, while with debit cards, it’s way more difficult to recover lost funds.
When reviewing items on credit card bills, look for small purchases—$1 here, $2 there. Thieves will test a stolen credit card with a few small purchases first to make sure that the number is good.
Use things like Apple Pay, Google Wallet, or similar mobile-payment software. There is much less risk of other people getting your information when all you do is click a button, rather than entering in all of your information manually. By doing this, you completely eliminate the risk of spyware (It can’t track your keystrokes if you don’t type anything). You will also receive a notification every time you make a payment, so you’ll be immediately notified for any fraudulent payments.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, even with all the best-laid security protocols, your personal information may still be at risk if there is a date breach at any of the the businesses that you do business with. Scammers will find vulnerability wherever they can. The best thing you can do is take care of your end. Educate yourself, Install protective services. Be mentally prepared. As a private investigator, I use ruses all the time to extract information from targets of my investigations (See how I conduct Physical Surveillance and Electronic Surveillance). Don’t fall for people like me.

If you need professional assistance for any type of corporate or private investigation, do not hesitate to contact us at, or at (212) 987-0808

29 July 2020

We’ve all seen the classic movies where two detectives sit in an unmarked car and eat fast food while on a stakeout. Seems like a pretty good time, right? The truth is that physical surveillance is pretty difficult work. It’s not as easy as sitting in the car and waiting. Detectives in real life train for years before conducting a stakeout to make sure that they do the job right. You’ve got to blend in like a chameleon for hours at a time with no sleep or food to see as much as possible without being spotted yourself. It’s a tall order and should be taken very seriously. In this post, expert private investigator, Dan Ribacoff, teaches how to conduct physical surveillance.

The Risks of Physical Surveillance.

Traffic Violations: Obeying traffic laws to the best of your abilities is a must if you want to conduct a safe and successful operation. Careless driving will not only lead to you getting in trouble, but can put others in danger of physical harm.

Assault or Physical Injury: You can’t go around knocking over elderly women and common pedestrians while you’re chasing somebody.

Trespassing: Even if you believe it to be necessary for your investigation, entering private property without consent of the of the landowner is still against the law. Also, any photo or video evidence that you obtain while trespassing cannot be used in a court of law.

Roping & Entrapment: This is one that you often hear about on TV, such as on Law & Order. Roping is the act of obtaining -information by legally deceiving others. This differs from entrapment, which is an illegal form of deception where someone creates a condition in which the target of an investigation is required to perform a certain action. For example, if you need to prove that someone is faking a disability, you can’t let the air out of his/her tires to get photos and videos of them jacking up their car. You just need to be a bystander and let the target prove themself guilty on their own.

Stalking & Harassment: Stalking is defined as instilling fear into a person; harassment as aggressive pressure and intimidation. If someone notices you following them or conducting surveillance on them and they detect you, the jig is up. You have to leave no matter what, or else it’s crime! You can definitely try again in a few days—wear a disguise, drive a different car and watch from somewhere else. In this case, it’s 2 strikes and you’re out, because if you’re caught again, they can file a complaint and you can be arrested for stalking or harassment.

Pre Surveillance

Before you go full surveillance mode, you need to understand the area that you’ll be working in. It’s always best to physically visit a location to get a feel for your surroundings. You can also use technology like Google Earth or Google Maps if going to the location isn’t an option. In doing this, you can establish vantage points, locate possible exits and identify traffic flow.

What kind of details should you be looking for in pre-surveillance? Let’s say that you think you husband is having an affair. You choose to do surveillance on the woman who you suspect him to be with because she doesn’t know you and he does. You will need to know things like, which trains are near her house, does she have a car, are there any one way streets, where most concealed area to watch from, etc. These are the kinds of questions you need to ask in order to be well prepared for surveillance.  

Most times, on the first day of surveillance, you go from 0 to 1. Then you have to come back the next day and take it from 1 to 2. Make a plan, but be prepared to change the plan if unforeseen circumstances occur. For example,  if you are following someone, but they get the last parking spot and get on the train, while you’re still trying to park, do not panic. Take a second to analyze what you’ve learned: “They get on the train at 7:45 AM on weekdays.” Now you know for tomorrow to wait in the parking lot and get parking spot early. Think smart and gather intel!

Stakeout Essentials

Pee Bottle (Wide-Mouth For Ladies):

Any detective or FBI Agent will tell you that this is the #1 must-have on a stakeout


It’s important to stay hydrated at all times, but remember, more water = more pee bottles.


You have no idea how long you’ll be there for, so bring plenty of nonperishables. Remember to avoid simple carbs, as they will cause you to feel more drowsy.

A Friend: 

If you’re going to be there for a while, having a friend to carry the load can make the operation much easier and run much smoother. One of you can sleep while the other watches. If you’re a woman, maybe having a friend there for safety purposes is something to consider as well.

Cell Phone: 

I mean, who leaves the house without it? It can be used for communication and the newer iPhones have impeccable camera quality.

Digital Camera: 

Although cell phone cameras can have great quality, many investigators prefer stand-alone digital cameras for better zoom capabilities and better picture quality.


The last thing that you want is to be getting good surveillance evidence and then all of a sudden, your recording device’s battery dies.

Dark or Inconspicuous Clothing: 

Definitely no Hawaiian shirts on a stakeout (unless you’re in Hawaii and it’s necessary to blend in). You want to choose something that’s not going to make you stand out. If you’re going to Downtown Manhattan, wear business attire. If you’re going to a sports game, wear a hat and jersey. For most stakeouts, jeans, a dark shirt/sweatshirt and a dark cap or hood will work just fine.

A Change of Clothes: 

During a surveillance, you may have to change your appearance at a moment’s notice. Wear a blue baseball cap, and carry a red one. It takes a person 3 looks to recognize someone if they don’t know them already (if they know the person, it only takes 1). Wear a reversible jacket or start walking with a limp when you pull a collapsible cane out of your backpack. Basically, do anything that you can so that the target thinks that they’ve only seen you once, even if that’s not the case.

Full-Windshield Sunshade: 

A simple tool, but it can be used to cover yourself from people who try to look through you front or back windshields.

ID and Vehicle Paperwork: 

There’s nothing illegal about conducting a stakeout, but if a police officer roles up to you for being in a No Parking Zone, you have to be prepared for that.

A Believable Cover Story: 

This one might even be as important as the pee bottle. Again, stakeout’s aren’t illegal, but its always best not to tell people (including cops) what you’re up to. For example, if you’re doing surveillance on your husband in a store and you tell a cop what you’re doing when he asks why you’re just sitting in your car, that cop will go into that store and give you right up 10 out of 10 times. We want to steer observers away from what’s going on in order to maintain our cover.

Keys For an Effective Stationary Surveillance

1. Distance:

In a stationary surveillance, distance is your best friend. The farther away you are from the target, the better. I’ve seen other private investigators. pull up right outside a target’s house. All I could think was “What a bunch of morons!” You always want to go down the block and watch from there. You can even use binoculars to get the best view from a distance.

2. Concealment:

The main idea of a stakeout is to not be seen. Even if you’re far away, you should do your best to hide yourself by:

-Sitting in the backseat of your car

-Face your car away from the target (It gives the illusion of disinterest)

-Installing tinted windows on your car

-closing your sunroof to make the inside of the car as dark as possible

Monitoring a Vehicle

If you ever have to disrupt or leave a surveillance and need to return at a later time, you may want to monitor if the target has moved their vehicle in your absence. Here are 2 pro-methods that you can use to do that:

1. Use a Rock: 

If you want to know if a person has left a particular location, place a rock on the top of their back tire before you leave. If it’s not still sitting there when you return, it means that the wheels on the car have rolled and they drove somewhere while you were away.

2. The Watch Trick: 

My favorite way track car movements is to buy a dull, colorless, inexpensive watch at Kmart for about three to four dollars. Place the watch on the passenger side, underneath one of the tires. If the target moves his/her car, they will crush the watch and break it. Because the watch will no longer work, it will be stuck at the time that it was broken, giving the exact time that the target left.

Moving Surveillance in the Car

When you tail someone by car, you have an extra layer of cover. However, you’re also at the mercy of the traffic gods: a bus will cut you off, the traffic signal changes, etc., so be prepared for everything out there.

As with other types of surveillance, you want to put as much distance as possible between you and the target. Try to leave a car or two between you and the target when you’re tailing them. That way, you can still see where they’re going and they can’t spot you unless they’re outwardly looking for you. If the target starts to drive dangerously (running red lights, making illegal u-turns, speeding, etc.), it may be an indication that they know they are being followed. Remember that your safety and the safety of others comes first.

Moving Surveillance on Foot

The same rules apply on foot⁠—distance, concealment and safety. Crowds can be a huge problem if you’re following a target. If you look away for even a second, you can lose the target completely. Everyone looks the same from behind, so you won’t be able to relocate them either. The point is to always have your eyes on the target and to stay close enough that you won’t lose them, but not close enough that they’ll spot you. If it’s too difficult to keep up (like if you’re following a jogger), you can consider using a bike.

Practice Makes Perfect

At one point or another, you’re going to lose your target. It happens to everyone, newbies as well as professionals sometimes. Surveillance is like any other skills, it takes a lot of practice. You can’t just wake up one morning and say “I’m gonna go follow my husband around” and expect to be successful. You have to get yourself prepared and you have to use common sense. If at first you don’t succeed, eat your Wheaties and try again tomorrow. Also, consider using electronic surveillance as an alternative if physical surveillance isn’t working out.

If you need professional help for a stakeout or any investigation for that matter, do not hesitate to contact us at or at (212) 987-0808

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