I-Team: Unlicensed security guard company at Tampa International Airport stiffs employees

Posted at 11:26 PM, Feb 24, 2017

GuardNow security got the contract to provide guards at Hertz rental car stations at several Florida airports including Tampa International Airport. The problem is, the I-Team discovered they never had the proper state Class B Security License to do so.

Ahmad Ali was the operations manager for GuardNow security at the Tampa airport Hertz office. He was in charge of hiring security guards. He says corporate bosses told him not to worry about background checks, just make sure they have a guards license, which does require a background check.

Reporter- "Do you see this as a security problem at the airport?"
Ali:  "That's a big problem. When a security company hired people, they don't know nothing about them and put them inside the airport that's a big problem."

To make matters worse, Guardnow cleared out their central Florida office and dozens of employees say they were never properly paid for the hours they worked.            

Ali: "When they go to deposit it's not accepted because there's no money in the account."
Reporter: "The checks bounced."
Ali: "Ummhmm."

Ali says GuardNow owes him $3 thousand, and they owe paychecks to 17 other people at the Tampa location.

The problem also hit Orlando's airport.   Kat Rajnauth says GuardNow owes her hundreds, and nearly 20 others in Orlando have the same problem.

"They flew the coop and that was it!" Rajnauth says.

Dukens Montrose says he is owed money, "I have been working in the United States about 7 years. I never heard of anything like this."

Back in Tampa Ahmad Ali says employees came to him crying because they couldn't keep the lights on at home because they were never paid.

"She said ifIi didn't pay the rent today they will kick me out from my apartment. So I give her money," says Ali

Reporter: "So you helped her with your own money?"
Ali; "Yeah."

Attorney Benjamin Pinczewski tried helping by contacting the Florida Attorney Generals office and Orlando police. He says he got nowhere.

"It was shock. The AG's's office who's supposed to be the advocate and the protector for people like these working class people, did nothing. The only time I heard from the AG's office Jarrod is when your network and you got involved."

After we told Tampa airport officials about the issue, their spokesperson, Janet Zink, tells us GuardNow was a subcontractor through Hertz rental car company, and that the security guards had no access to high security areas at the airport.

"Safety and security are top priority for TIA.... So as soon as we heard about this we contacted Hertz and they let us know they are no longer doing business with this company." says Zink

GuardNow headquarters is in Los Angeles, they do appear to be licensed there.

We tried reaching out to their CEO Noor Kator who goes by Mike. We were transferred to a voicemail, then no one ever called us back.

Just recently Morgan and Morgan filed a civil lawsuit in attempts to get employees who worked for GuardNow their paychecks. Attorneys tell us they have at least 17 clients so far.

The state's Department of Agriculture fined GuardNow $2 thousand for not having a proper state security license.


Jarrod Holbrook is an Emmy and AP Award-winning Investigative Reporter for the ABC Action News I-Team.

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