By the Denver Private Investigator Blog
By Ryan Ross
Ross Investigators, P.C.
Colorado regulators have known for months that a private investigator is operating illegally without a license, and although they told him to stop, they aren't referring him for criminal prosecution and they have told the person who complained about the private investigator that she’s going to have to file another complaint if she wants him to stop.
“It’s very disheartening,” says Toni Ingram told the Denver Private Investigator Blog. “In Colorado it seems like the (private investigators) that are doing things illegally always seem to skate by with no ramifications.”
Colorado regulators issued Jacob Ames of Broomfield a cease-and-desist order last July telling him to stop calling himself a private investigator. Under a Colorado law passed in 2015, private investigators operating in Colorado aren’t allowed to call themselves that unless they get a license from the state. Ames hasn’t.
Ingram filed a complaint against Ames in eight months ago. She says Ames is thumbing his nose at regulators by continuing to call himself a private investigator on his LinkedIn page. Ingram says regulators told her she can file another complaint against Ames. “I will,” Ingram writes to the Denver Private Investigator Blog, “but I have no idea how long that will take to wind its way through the process again.”
Ames told regulators in a July 8 email that he hasn’t obtained a private investigators license “due to monetary issues.” The cost of a license is between $300 and $400.
Ames told the Denver Private Investigator Blog he works missing persons and death investigations and that 95 percent of the work is pro bono, and without income he has no way of paying for a license.
He acknowledged being in what he calls “technical” violation of the law requiring him to be licensed but he said he’s been trying to eliminate all references to himself as a private investigator.
It’s difficult to impossible, he said, because his business card has been circulating for years, and is posted in many places online over which he has no control. “I’m trying to cover everything,” he said, “but there’s a lot out there on me.”
As for his LinkedIn page, Ames says he wasn’t aware it calls him a private investigator. “I barely use that,” he says of LinkedIn. Following his conversation with the Private Investigator Blog, Ames updated his LinkedIn profile with the description, “C.P.S. Investigations Consultant, Armed Security Patrol and Protective Services K9-Unit.”
Ames also said he had a phone conservation with a state regulator that the regulator said was “off the record” in which the regulator says the licensing law was “all about the money” and not about increasing the standards of private investigators. He said the regulator urged him to get the funds necessary to obtain a license.
As for Ingram, Ames said she filed the complaint against him because of a “personal grudge or vendetta” stemming from his refusal to endorse or use psychic services that she endorsed or offered to help solve missing persons and death investigations. Ames told regulators Ingram had joined a group of psychics and had “attempted to get involved (in) or obstruct many investigations of missing persons” and “has been a nuisance in the community of Private Investigations.”
In August, regulators decided to refer the Ames case to the Office of Expedited Settlement. That’s the most recent action indicated in the records released to the Denver Private Investigator Blog in response to a records request submitted citing the state’s open records law.
In an Aug 9 email to regulators, Ames wrote that Ingram’s complaint is “frivolous” because, he said, he had stopped calling himself a private investigator and no one else was calling him one except for the operators of a web site over whether he says he has no control. “So all should be well,” he wrote. He didn’t reference his LinkedIn page.
The Ames case is important for Colorado private investigators because it’s a test of what regulators are willing to do to defend the state law requiring investigators to get licenses. If unlicensed private investigators get nothing more than a “cease and desist” letter from regulators, then private investigators who get licenses and pay the fee will wonder whether they need to bother.
Toni Ingram is the mother of Morgan Ingram, who was found dead Dec. 2, 2011 in her family’s home outside of Carbondale. Morgan was 20. Authorities ruled her death a suicide. Toni Ingram says a stalker or stalkers murdered her daughter.
Ingram says investigator Ames first contacted her in 2012, offering to help. She says she did not accept the offer. At the time Ames was free to call himself a private investigator because Colorado did not have a licensing requirement. But the licensing requirement became effective Jun 1, 2015.
On Aug. 5, 2015, Ingram says, Ames contacted her again, this time to complain and she and an associate were trying to help a client of his who, Ingram says, also had a daughter murdered. Ames intimated that didn't want them helping his client. Ingram says Ames told his client that he had investigated Morgan’s death and concluded that Morgan had been killed by her brother. Ingram says that’s “ a horrible lie.”
Ames is “ a bottom feeder,” she wrote in the complaint she sent to Colorado regulators, “praying on grieving families that have lost a loved one to murder, as well as families of missing loves ones.”
Regulators told Ames in a February 19 letter that calling himself a private investigator without getting a license is a misdemeanor. He didn’t respond. They issued their case-and-desist order July 5. They offered Ames a hearing. He declined, and said he would stop calling himself a private investigator.
The Ames case is apparently the first one in which regulators have issued a cease-and-desist order, but regulators aren't being forthcoming with their outcome of their review of other complaints. Enforcement supervisor Dennis Larson says he will not release any records pertaining to enforcement cases that are “ongoing,” citing a provision in the records law allowing public officials to withhold such records.
The Denver Private Investigator Blog reported last March that regulators had received complaints against five Colorado private investigators. They were accused of operating without a license, harassing the husband of a woman who had children by a prior marriage on behalf of the ex-husband/father, not responding to a request for a $400 refund after a client complained that the private investigator has failed to disclose he knew someone he had been hired to investigate, acting “very unethically and inappropriately” when while working for a defense attorney representing someone charged with sex assault when he tried to contact the alleged victim at her residence and spoke with her boyfriend, and calling someone more than 100 times “in a day” and leaving 27 voice-mail messages calling the complainant “filthy names, cussing me out and baiting me to answer the phone.”
These complaints are presumably still under review.
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