Troubled Ontario security company “FEDSEC”, or Federal Security Agency, which is named “Federal Force Security Agency” in provincial licencing records, maintains several dubious claims on their website, according to a recent analysis.
“Close protection” is a highly sought after skill, in demand worldwide due to an increase in terrorism, kidnap and ransom incidents, and a widening gap between rich and poor, amongst other contributing factors. Not surprisingly, the close protection “operatives” in the highest demand are normally those with former military or police protective unit experience.
Like many security companies, FEDSEC also claims close protection to be one of the services available to clients. On closer examination, some of the claims made about their close protection operatives seem unlikely at best, or at their worst, bald falsehoods. There is truly no way of knowing for sure.
However, FEDSEC claims to be a “global market leader” in close protection services, and asserts that in 2011 they provided “VIP protection to more high profile clients” than any other Canadian security company.
But, the United Kingdom has a large number of close protection training schools and service providers, no doubt because of the large numbers of wealthy and high-profile residents and visitors to London, one of the largest cities in Europe. In fact, one UK security industry organization expressed concern that UK close protection companies would be so busy during the upcoming 2012 Olympics that there may not be enough service providers to go around. In the UK, close protection services are strictly regulated and accredited training is mandatory.
One of the largest security companies operating in Canada is Montreal-based Garda. They employ over 15,000 employees, and operate from coast-to-coast, including in areas where high-profile clients tend to buy real estate, visit, and work, such as Vancouver, Whistler, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and of course, Toronto.
Garda offers executive protection services, as does its largest competitor, G4S. They offer better pay, benefits, and a wider selection of work locations to choose from, than FEDSEC, which operates in Ontario.
All of this makes FEDSEC’s claim that “all” of its close protection operates have served with one of the premier government agencies, such as the US Secret Service, the RCMP’s Prime Minister’s protection, or “New Scotland Yard” SO14 Royalty Protection Branch, to be next to unbelievable. All of these organizations remunerate their employees well and provide ample pensions. It strikes us as unlikely that a small Ontario security company offering most of its workers minimum wage would attract retirees with these credentials, although we would be happy to be proven wrong.
Aside from the unlikely claims of the experience levels of their close protection operatives, the website makes bold intellectual property claims that are patently false.
On its “copyright information” page, FEDSEC asserts trademark rights over its logos, including several that closely resemble existing US agency emblems.
A section of the company’s site reads: “The marks appearing on this website including, but not limited to: (i) FEDSEC logo, emblems and slogans; (ii) the Uniformed Division logo, emblems and slogans; (iii) the Office of Protective Operations logo, emblems and slogans; and (iv) the Office of Intelligence and Research logo, emblems and slogans, are trademarks and/or service marks of the FEDSEC, its subsidiaries, affiliates or licensors.”
A brief search of Industry Canada’s trademarks database reveals no such existing trademarks, or trademark applications pending. As a Canadian company, it would be unusual for FEDSEC to register its trademarks in any other jurisdiction, and no others were searched.
What makes their intellectual property claims all the more laughable is that a number of the images and photographs on their company website appear to be directly taken from other organizations, with no copyright or credit listed anywhere. One photograph is of actor Matthew Fox from the 2008 movie “Vantage Point”, showing Fox as a member of the US Presidential protection detail. There is no acknowledgement of the rights holder, Columbia Pictures, or whether permission was obtained to use the image.
Another photo used by FEDSEC shows dark-suited secret service agents guarding a sedan. The image is an exact match to a photo uploaded to the “Bodyguards” page on the popular online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. That file, uploaded by Chuck Patch from Baltimore, Maryland, describes it as US Secret Service agents protecting First Lady Laura Bush while visiting a museum. The author reserved certain rights to the image, including the right to require anyone re-using it to attribute the image to the author. No such attribution appears on FEDSEC’s website where the image is used.
Unscrupulous security companies are an unfortunate problem in the Canadian security industry. A little careful research and due diligence is required to separate the wheat from the chaffe.
Clearly, FEDSEC falls into the latter category, as the company openly displays hard to believe fantasies, falsehoods, and misappropriations on its main marketing vehicle – its website. While it may be difficult to judge a book by its cover, a lack of integrity that is egregiously displayed as FEDSEC’s should certainly serve as a warning flag to any security client.