About Us

44
years of excellence

We are best known for developing and implementing strategies to protect multinational corporations and their personnel from terrorists and criminals, planning for contingencies, dealing with extortions and other threats, and recovering kidnap victims.

Our approach is anchored in our Risknet® service, which analyzes terrorism, crime and political-stability risks in 100 countries and is updated every business day. 

Clients seek out our intelligence, negotiating, communications and protective expertise when facing emergencies globally -- from kidnappings, extortions and threats to wrongful detentions, evacuations, and intractable problems with violence-prone labor and fringe groups.

Our innovative training programs are highly regarded, as are our plant and residential audits, strategies for safeguarding inventories and investigative skills.

Moreover, as an entirely independent concern, The Ackerman Group renders advice independently of manufacturers of security hardware, alarm and guard services, and insurance underwriters.

Our methodologies are thorough, balanced, deliberate, proven - and cost-effective. Our discretion is absolute.

Services

The Ackerman Group provides an array of services to safeguard client corporations and their employees against a broad spectrum of terrorist and criminal threats.

Our Risknet® service provides crystal-clear analysis of crime, terrorism and political stability risks in 100 countries, along with pertinent security advice.  It is updated throughout the business day and accessible electronically around the clock.  The service features:

Executive Digest

The digest addresses global security developments from a corporate perspective.  Concise analysis is accompanied by Ackerman Group advice.  Beyond problems of immediate concern, trends are tracked, providing crucial early warning of risks. 

Country Summaries

Summaries provide a deeper look at security issues facing countries with tailored Ackerman Group advice.  These pages are updated regularly.

City Guides

The guides contain information and security advice for corporate travelers navigating the world’s major cities.

Air Travel 

The guidance analyzes terrorism risks related to commercial airline travel.

Urgent Inquiries

Clients with urgent inquiries are assured instant, 24-hour telephone access to our area specialists.  We happily address routine questions from clients by phone and email both during and after business hours.

Customized Surveys

Our analysts are available for customized surveys and recommendations on countries or regions under consideration for new or expanded investment.

Obtaining Access

Risknet® is provided gratis to holders of Chubb’s Kidnap, Ransom and Extortion insurance.  It is also available for a yearly fee.  End-user corporations may qualify for a free two-week trial.

Crisis Management Team Training:

We offer a half-day training seminar designed specifically for members of a corporate Crisis Management Team (CMT). Guidance is provided as to the appropriate composition of the CMT and the management of key elements of a successful hostage recovery or extortion response. Among topics discussed are the handling of the notification of a kidnapping or extortion, relations with the victim’s family, liaison with law enforcement agencies, dealing with media, strategizing the negotiation, and organizing the ransom delivery and hostage recovery. The training also includes a simulated kidnap case that participants are tasked with resolving. This seminar is critical to ensure corporate procedures are effective and that the CMT is prepared to respond to emergencies in conjunction with our experts.

International Travel Security Awareness Training:

It is neither possible nor necessary to provide protective details for the vast majority of executives who travel or reside overseas, so we place a major emphasis upon personal security awareness training. This half-day seminar surveys terrorist/criminal methodologies and explains "gray" -- anonymous -- travel, airline selection strategies, airport safety guidelines, ground transportation alternatives, hotel security tips, tactics for avoiding street crime, means of protecting sensitive information and other countermeasures.  The seminar is typically a half-day program but its length, as well as the countries and associated risks covered in the training, can be tailored to specific corporate requirements.

Personal Security/Kidnap Prevention Training:

This half-day classroom seminar trains expatriates and local nationals who live and work in high-risk environments to take personal responsibility for their security. It prepares them to bolster arrangements at their residences and workplaces to move safely between them. It addresses behavior-modification techniques, means of detecting hostile surveillances and effective emergency response. The seminar is tailored to the specific environments in which participants operate. Training can be conducted in English or the local language.

Hands-On Assault Survival Training:

This half-day program is presented in conjunction with International Travel Security Awareness or Personal Security/Kidnap Prevention training and adds an important element of live-action training in assault response. It features a combination of classroom instruction and “hands-on” training scenarios designed to expose trainees to techniques for increasing their chances of surviving assaults, including express kidnappings, carjackings, ATM muggings, armed robberies and restaurant- and home-invasions. Practical tips are provided for the use of verbal and body-language responses to mitigate the potential for violence.  Again, training can be conducted in English or the local language.

Workplace Violence/Active Shooter Training:

This half-day seminar examines the phenomenon of violence in the workplace, stressing the importance of developing a comprehensive Workplace Violence Plan that focuses on both prevention and response. The presenter describes a representative sample of case studies to examine typical perpetrator profiles and catalysts for violence. Also discussed, are actions to be taken in response to an active shooter, incorporating the tenets of “Run, Hide, Fight” set out by law enforcement. The final segment of the training focuses on appropriate after-action programs, such as psychological counseling for victims and other affected employees and tips for dealing with the media. The length of the seminar, as well as the focus of the training, can be tailored to specific corporate requirements and audience make-up.

Protective Driving Training:

Executives and/or their drivers are briefed on the conceptual basis of security-driving methodology and instructed in techniques. We also conduct "hands-on" driving exercises both domestically and overseas.

Physical Security Audits / Risk Assessments:

Our operatives conduct thorough physical security audits of corporate facilities, to include: office spaces, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, mining complexes, executive residences and corporate-owned residences. The audit assesses risks in and around the site and examines perimeter defenses, exterior lighting, parking facilities, building access controls and the competence of security guard services.  The audits can be conducted as part of normal security planning, as part of an emergency response, such as a threat to life or product-tampering extortion or with a specific goal in mind, for example, mitigating the risks of an active shooter.  Every audit includes a detailed report that includes maps, photos, and a comprehensive list of recommendations.   

Hostage Recoveries:

Our 24-hour availability assures immediate response to a kidnapping, and we are prepared to advise and assist the victim corporation through every aspect of the recovery process. Working under corporate decision-makers, we propose strategies, interface with law-enforcement authorities, handle negotiations, and protect and even deliver ransom funds -- always with the objective of assuring the survival of the hostage. We respond to kidnappings worldwide, sending one responder to work in-country with local corporate managers and the victim’s family and another responder to advise the Crisis Management Team (CMT). Daily updates are provided to the CMT and at the conclusion, a detailed report of the incident is provided.  

Extortion:

We also are called upon to deal with monetary demands levied in connection with threats to harm an employee, damage a critical corporate resource, including a database or website, or contaminate a consumable product. Again, our reaction is immediate, our experience is substantial, and our paramount concern is the protection of the client corporation's personnel and assets. Extortion response may include investigation of the subject and protection teams assigned to the potential victim and/or facility. 

Threat Evaluations:

Our operatives travel at a moment's notice to evaluate threats levied by terrorist groups, criminal gangs, labor movements, or disgruntled or dismissed employees, calling upon psychiatric resources when necessary. They also arrange for the protection of the individual or asset at risk.  If required, liaison with local, state and federal law enforcement officials is conducted.  On many occasions, the threat evaluation is conducted in conjunction with a background investigation of the suspect or suspect group and physical security audit.    

Emergency Evacuations:

We are ready to travel on short notice to assist in evacuating employees from areas that have turned hazardous. If necessary, we are prepared to employ unconventional extraction methodologies.

Development of Contingency Plans:

We are prepared to assist corporations in the formulation of crisis-management plans for kidnappings, extortions and threats to individuals and property, bomb-response guidelines, and procedures for evacuating employees from unstable areas. 

Our extensive network of investigative resources, developed and refined in the course of more than 40 years, extends to the farthest reaches of the globe. Our excellent relations with law-enforcement agencies, both domestic and foreign, facilitate investigations and, if required, criminal prosecutions.

We approach all investigations in a prudent, deliberate manner. After analyzing clients' needs, we proffer realistic strategies, ranging from the very basic to the exceptionally innovative. Often, a conservative approach is indicated, whereby we undertake an initial inquiry within a defined, reasonable budget. Results and, when appropriate, suggested avenues of further exploration are presented to the client, who decides whether a fuller effort is warranted. Moreover, we add value to the information generated in the inquiry by collating it into a precise, perceptive, timely report. 

Due Diligence

We conduct background investigations of employment candidates, prospective joint-venture partners, and franchisees and potential acquisitions.

The investigations focus on reviews of criminal and civil records, credit history, financial data and history, education, employment history, governmental and regulatory checks, and social media.  If appropriate, we gauge reputations via interviews.

Investigations are conducted online by in-house investigators and in-person by our vast network of associates.  If warranted, one of our in-house investigators will travel to supervise on-the-ground investigative steps and conduct interviews. 

Costs and timelines are determined on an individual case basis.  When the investigation is conducted in the US, clients can expect to have preliminary results within five business days.      

Fraud

Direct financial losses, including embezzlements, are investigated worldwide, as are indirect financial losses, such as kickback/bribery schemes, conflict-of-interest situations or bid-rigging and collusion.  We also have extensive experience conducting product diversion investigations, to include surveillances.

Many of these investigations are conducted in conjunction with security audits designed to mitigate the risk of having the crime repeated at a later date. 

Conventional Theft

We investigate breaches of the production-distribution chain through inventory erosion, diversion, even hijacking, as well as corporate penetration by criminal organizations. Investigative steps include a thorough examination of a logistical, warehouse and transportation processes, as well as detailed interviews or interrogations of witnesses and subjects. 

We pride ourselves on our ability to protect personnel assigned to high-risk areas and visitors to those areas. We also are prepared to provide security for facilities, meetings and special events.

Our protective details consist of security drivers and armed or unarmed security escorts vetted and, in most cases, trained by our protection specialists. We ensure that our protection details comply with all local laws, regulations and licensing requirements.

Transportation in soft (unarmored) or hard (armored) vehicles can be arranged as required.

If the client so chooses, visits may be "advanced" and supervised by protection specialists from our staff. The credentials of our language- and area-qualified specialists are impeccable, and they stand ready to coordinate security, communications, logistics and protocol requirements. 

We also are prepared to provide tailored, state-of-the-art training for a client’s own protective personnel.

In a rapidly evolving cyberthreat landscape, our training seminars and comprehensive IT security audits help client corporations, family offices and high-net-worth individuals understand and address vulnerabilities in their networks and devices and improve their cybersecurity posture. 

Our objective is to limit the opportunities for hackers to steal or corrupt data or hold it hostage in ransomware attacks.

 

Identify

We help organizations manage cybersecurity risks to systems and devices.  Our objective is to enhance their understanding of their digital assets and the risks currently facing them.

Protect

We assist organizations and individuals in developing and implementing appropriate safeguards to prevent or contain the impact of a potential cybersecurity incident.  We guide them through the process of setting up proper access controls to digital assets, put measures in place to protect data and deploy technology to ensure cyber-resilience.

Detect

We strive to improve our clients’ grasp of network issues and ability to identify cybersecurity threats.  Our goal is to help clients detect intrusions and thereby minimize their effects.  We are prepared to conduct penetration testing to evaluate network integrity.

Respond

We support businesses and individuals in crafting response plans, to include defining lines of communication and recommending appropriate measures to address incidents and incorporate lessons learned into revised response strategies.

Recover

By helping clients put together a prioritized list of actions that can be used in the recovery process, we help ensure a timely and efficient return to normal operations.

 

Our auditors generate timely, comprehensive written reports that address strengths and flaws in the client’s current cybersecurity arrangements and provide detailed recommendations. 

Our training empowers clients to recognize and prevent cybersecurity risks.  These in-person and virtual training seminars are geared to helping trainees learn to improve security practices at the office, at home and during travel.

Management Team

Our superb staff—with invaluable experience in the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and military special-operations units—possesses in-depth area knowledge and personal contacts in virtually every corner of the world. We work in more than 20 languages.

Mike Ackerman

Chairman

Widely acknowledged as one of America's leading authorities on terrorism, Mike Ackerman's forte is recovering kidnap victims. He has lectured at the National War College, the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth's Amos Tuck School of Business Administration, has appeared before the crisis-management teams of numerous multinational corporations and has made more than 50 appearances as a commentator on terrorism and intelligence matters on FoxNews and other news networks. His book, Counter-terrorism Strategies for Corporations: The Ackerman Principles, was published in 2008. Ackerman served in the CIA's Clandestine Services for 11 years before resigning in 1975 to protest the congressional investigation of the Agency then in progress and plead for the preservation of America's intelligence capability. In the CIA he had undertaken intelligence operations in 20 European, Latin American and African countries. Fluent in Spanish and conversant in Russian and Italian, Ackerman graduated from Dartmouth College magna cum laude and holds an M.A. from Columbia. He was a security officer in the US Air Force Strategic Air Command.

H. Wesley Odom

President

Wes Odom joined The Ackerman Group in 1990, following a 15-year career in the CIA's Clandestine Services. At the CIA, he had specialized in foreign intelligence operations and counterterrorism and garnered extensive experience in technical surveillance. He had tours in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and served as an instructor in the Agency's operational training program. A fluent Spanish speaker, he holds a B.A. and M.A. from the University of West Florida and served with a US Navy Seabee battalion in Vietnam.

Joseph M. Deters

Senior Vice President, Operations

Joe Deters retired from the FBI in July 2021 after a 20-year career that culminated in an appointment as Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Cincinnati Field Office.  He also served as Supervisory Special Agent in the Los Angeles Field Office, overseeing investigations into public corruption, was Legal Attache in San Salvador, with responsibility for the Northern Triangle of Central America, and led investigations into kidnapping and terrorism in Latin America from the Miami Field Office.   He has been commended for investigative excellence, sustained exemplary performance and high-impact leadership.  Deters has a BA from the University of Idaho and an MA and PhD in Spanish language and literature from the University of Arizona. 

Frank Pedrozo

Senior Vice President, Operations

Frank Pedrozo served 29 years in the US Army, achieving the rank of colonel. A Special Forces officer, he commanded the US Military Liaison Office in Mexico, the Special Troops Battalion of V Corps, US Army-Europe, and served as a military advisor in El Salvador during that country's civil war. Pedrozo holds a B.S. from West Point, a Master's in Strategic Planning from the US Army War College and an M.A. in International Relations from Salve Regina University. His awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Bronze Star with "V" Device. Pedrozo speaks native Spanish and is conversant in Portuguese and German.

Bill Reynolds

Vice President, Analytical Services

Bill Reynolds joined The Ackerman Group in May 2001 and is Vice President, Analytical Services. A journalist by trade, he has years of experience in the former Communist bloc. He arrived in Czechoslovakia upon the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, filing stories for US newspapers as the country peacefully dissolved into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993. During the same period, he made frequent reporting trips to the former Yugoslavia, then splitting apart. He moved to Ukraine in 1995, and from 1998 to 2001 edited the leading English-language newspaper in Baku, Azerbaijan. Fluent in Russian, he holds a BA in political science at Temple University.

Adam Stanley-Smith

Regional Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa

Adam Stanley-Smith served six years in the US Marine Corps, achieving the rank of captain. He participated in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, leading a mechanized infantry platoon from Kuwait to Baghdad. Subsequently, he served in the Current Operations Section of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC), supporting the establishment of the command and team training and deployments. After leaving the Marine Corps, Stanley-Smith taught basic military skills and tactics to army units in Burundi and Djibouti. He holds a BA in International Studies from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), an MBA from the prestigious HEC School of Management in Paris and Master of Science in Economics from the NHH School of Economics in Bergen, Norway. He is fluent in French and proficient in German.

Chuck Krueger

Regional Director, Asia

Chuck Krueger served 23 years in the US Army, beginning in the enlisted ranks and retiring as a lieutenant colonel. A Special Forces and Foreign Area Officer specializing in Asia, he served in the 1st and 7th Special Forces Groups, the 101st Air Assault Division and the 2nd Infantry Division. Following his retirement from the army, Krueger served as a project manager for security at the US Embassy, Bangkok, and as security manager for a firm servicing more than 40 airlines at Bangkok International Airport. He has a B.S. in Business Administration from Indiana University, an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Kansas and an M.B.A. from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Krueger is fluent in Thai and proficient in Mandarin.

Contact Us

The Ackerman Group has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Salt Lake City, Munich, Bangkok, and correspondents throughout the world. Our clients include some 65 of America's top 100 multinationals, along with numerous European and Japanese companies.

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