- August 10, 2023
How it all started 30 years ago…
1. It started as a project in 1989… “Join the U.S. Air Force (USAF), get into security and OSI”; that page from my planner is framed and on my office wall. Not sure how it all happened, but I joined the USAF, lived overseas in Italy, was top 10% of the USAF Police Academy, and was a sharp and steadfast Airman. I got involved with Army’s ABGD, and EST (Emergency Service Team) a team that handles terrorist threats, protected Air Force One on the Tarmac, and I even knocked on the OSI’s secret door. The OSI is like the “Men in Black” … spooks! My life changed that day as I was recruited to handle clandestine operations overseas… my plan was all coming together!
2. I left the U.S. Air Force and was living in Coconut Grove when I created Counter Intelligence Services on August 13th, 1993, I just got out of the USAF a year prior. You can read my bio on LinkedIn here (https://www.linkedin.com/in/counterintelligence), or here, (https://www.counter-intelligence.com/staff/darren-l-epstein).
3. In the early years I got known for my surveillance results, aggressive but always covert. I started working for law firms and got good with money laundry cases, theft of brands (counterfeiting), along with TSCM (debugging) services for Bacardi and others. I got involved with the protection of battered women, and even went out of the country to Chile to save a child illegally taken out of country. I was young and craving fieldwork… so surveillance, personal protection, and excitement were what I craved.
4. In 1998 I opened my first office in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale off of Andrews Avenue… and we’ve been here for the past 24 years. 9 SW 13th Street 2nd Floor Ft. Lauderdale FL. 33315.
Like an investigation, a business can be analyzed into its finer components, and I got busy with marketing! Back in the day, we had the “Yellow Pages” (how nostalgic). After a few yrs. in the Miami book, my masterplan found me placing Yellow Page ads in 6 strategic cities; Ft Lauderdale, Dallas, Beverly Hills, Atlanta, Washington DC, Charlotte, and New York City. We had other URLs (x6) with the city within for marketing reasons, i.e., www.privateinvestigatorNYC.com.
5. In 1999 I created a subsidiary to get my message to the correct audience as the online dating scene took off, so DateChecker was created. www.DateChecker.com “Do you know who you are REALLY Dating”?
6. The first CIS commercial was created in 2000, you can watch it here – (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPM-EXzEhHs). Thank you, Mark Clark, for not only making the Counter Intelligence Services commercial… but a TV show (SPEYES) you will learn more about below. Mr. Clark is a great movie & TV director, and needing life experience he also assisted on a Covert Op., he was great!
7. After the 9/11 attack and being registered with the local and federal government we got busy! The Ft. Lauderdale Mayors’ Office and Comp Controller needed TSCM bug sweeps along with additional security measures. The USAF requested handheld and walkthrough metal detectors for events, and DirectTV contacted us for mail sanitizers for their mail room after the anthrax scare! It was a busy year!
8. Shortly after the attack we opened a satellite office in Washington DC, and one of our best employees (Steven) took off to handle operations. Thank you, Steven!
9. In 2003 we handled the security protection detail for the Miami Dolphins Super Bowl of Fashion, a black-tie event with 10+ security executive protection staff, you can watch the video here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2k6KKJT6EE).
That same year we did it again but for a Fashion Ball detail, and the protection of a 4-million-dollar dress of gems, you can watch that video here – (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYP4SMcKYEo). We also created an in-house “laser beam fence”, to create the Illusion of museum security around the 4-million-dollar gem dress. When the smoke hit, it was amazing! My righthand man, senior investigator, and office manager Mr. Jakob was always on his game; sharp, excited, and eager to assist our Clients and Counter Intelligence Services. Thank you, Mr. Jakob!!
10. In 2004 I opened our Second Office in Tampa as we were the leading investigative agency for the newly formed Morgan & Morgan and wanting to be closer to operations and develop relationships, it seemed like the right move. “Grow the dream” was always a voice in my mind… years later who would have known they would become the largest Personal Injury Law Firm in the world, with us now assisting 25+ offices! Thank you, Mr. Morgan! Philip took the reigns and was in charge of our Tampa office… thank you, Philly!!
11. In 2004, and a little earlier I realized the company needed software to run and analyze cases. Organization was always a strength of mine and out of that I created a second company, (www.VirtualCaseManagement.com). This software handles Case Management, Project Management, secure communication (Emails & IM), Reports, Billing, and much more.
12. With the 2008 financial collapse we had to close a few things and regroup, to keep the business strong, knowing we would grow again and recover.
13. In 2016 another subsidiary to get my message to the correct audience was created, www.CrewBackgroundChecks.com; we handle international criminal vetting, K9 drug sweeps after charters, remote drug screening on vessels worldwide, etc. for the yachting industry.
14. We have won the Best Private Investigative Agency 5 times (2008, 2015, 2019, 2021, and 2022).
(You can find those awards here) – https://www.counter-intelligence.com/news-events/.
15. I’ve been in the newspaper (the Daily Business Review in Fort Lauderdale) on 09/11/1998, page 10 – “From Trenchcoat to Pinstripes“.
16. I sat on the board for ACIM (www.AChildIsMissing.org) for many years where I would assist with events and security. Thank you, Sherry!!
17. I was interviewed on TV twice and you can find those videos here, my first time was in 1999 – (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNkGSmPj_jc) and my 2nd time was an Interview by Erin Somers – (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-BJnmILuJ4&t=159s).
18. I assisted in creating the concept and was the host to a South Beach TV pilot series based on investigations known as SPEYES, you can watch that here – (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA7xhjZOXOI&t=11s).
SUMMARY: WHAT A RIDE… DREAMS COME TRUE! Focus! Make lists! NEVER give up! Hard times come… and the most learning comes from them. PAY ATTENTION! Hard when in the “fog of war”, you can’t see clearly… but trust in yourself and absorb it! THANK YOU to so many, but a special thank you to Mr. Jakob my righthand, Karla da’grubby hand magician, sweet Jill, brilliant Steven, Mike da’surveillance king, Big Ed the 4 finger TSCM master, Patrick da’wizard computer forensics expert, Gibson the legend, Shlagman da’myth (what stories), secret agent man Carl, Sammy, crazy Frank, too-bright Carlos, the U.S. Air Force… and well so many more. THANK YOU!!