How to Do Top-Notch Surveillance and Dark Web Deep Dives

Want to know if your daughter's new boyfriend is who he says he is? It can take weeks and costs as much as $5,000.

If your name is Hunt or Bass,” says Greg Shaffer, citing two prominent Texas oil families, “you’re a target for people who don’t have two nickels to rub together. That’s why you call someone like me.” Dialing Shaffer, the Dallas-based founding partner of the Shaffer Security Group, means that the grifter targeting your family gets one of the most formidable opponents money can buy.

Security is like a haircut: You get what you pay for.

Shaffer, 55 with sandy hair and a quarterback’s jaw, is ex-FBI; he has worked in places like Iraq and Pakistan and has provided security at Super Bowls and Olympiads. He’ll start checking a person’s true identity by tapping into his own network of former agents and spies, as well as certified ethical hackers with dark web expertise. “We can see private social media accounts,” Shaffer says. “Hidden records and juvenile arrests. Schools, grades, every residence, every job they’ve ever had, banking records, fake Social Security numbers.”

The dark web deep dive takes two to three weeks and costs $3,500 to $5,000. If more is required, Shaffer will have a tracking device planted on the suspect’s vehicle and deploy physical surveillance. “Real surveillance takes eight to 10 guys,” he says. “You need a team that can change disguises and vehicles quickly.”

This gets expensive, at $100 per investigator per hour, plus expenses like car rentals and hotel rooms. And if you want Shaffer himself on your squad, it costs more (he reveals his rate only if you plan to hire him). “Security is like a haircut,” he says. “You get what you pay for.”


Security at the Super Bowl

In most of the cases he has worked on, the person in question is lying about assets above all else. “The most common is a story about fake wealth,” he says. But he suspects more shocking secrets exist. “I have not had one where I discovered an ISIS terrorist or a man who is really a woman,” he says, “but I’m sure those cases are out there.”

Do you ever worry that someone might be spying on you?

Yes, it's more common thank you think.

No, it never crossed my mind.


This story appears in the October 2018 issue of Town & Country. 

*This story originally appeared on
*Minor edits have been made by the editors

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Howie Kahn
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