American Police Force is a scam of epic proportions
Friday, October 2, 2009
When the scene started to unfold in Hardin, Montana, my first reaction could best be described as an overwhelming feeling of despair. The thought that our worst fears were coming true so soon literally sent chills down my spine. Talk of foreign troops on American soil and secret, empty detention centers appeared to be taking shape before our very eyes. Scary stuff indeed.
But as the hours and days unfolded and more light was shined upon this story, it became less of a looming threat and more like an engrossing tabloid scandal.
One look at the Napoleonic Michael Hilton (or whatever one of the several aliases you’ve come to know him by) soft soaping the locals was reminiscent of some of the characters I’d met during my 17 years as a private investigator. I was occasionally employed to inquire into the backgrounds of a client’s potential business partner(s) and over the years I developed a knack of “sizing-up” some of these slick operators into often stereotypical profiles.
Hilton was one such character. The very choice of a recognizably wealthy name for an alias sent up an immediate red flag. Then the other familiar flashy dresser driving expensive cars, staying in the priciest digs in town and throwing money around like so much confetti is essential to a good con. These things are meant to distract the masses from responsible business practice by mesmerizing them with “bread and circuses”.
The curiosity about this guy led me to the web-site americanpolicegroup.com where I literally broke out in laughter. This thing looks like somebody’s wet dream; a fantasy company one might create for a video game or a big screen adaptation of a comic book.
I mean look at those screen shots: Choppers coming out of an “Apocolypse Now” sunset? Soldiers in action poses with automatic pistols in each hand. Who are they trying to appeal to? 16 year olds? Certainly not serious clients looking for a company that practices restraint and professionalism. These images would best be suited on a poster advertising the next Quentin Tarantino flick.
Talk about ambitious. Not even “Blackwater” has the resources that this company claims to have. And the array of services that they offer is quite frankly absurd. The licensing, personnel and insurance alone would be on a scale that would make it impossible for this company to be kept under the radar so long or to rise out of nowhere so soon.
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It was during this perusal that something occurred to me. In all the articles I have read, no one addressed the issue of the services they advertise and the licenses required for those services. I am very familiar with laws pertaining to Private Investigators and I know that the State of California is very strict with how a licensed private investigator conducts his business.
“American Police Force” is a California corporation and in order to advertise for investigative services in the State of California, one must be licensed and the licensee must advertise using the name that the license is issued under. I went to the website of www.bsis.ca.gov/online_services/verify_license.shtml. This is the website for the California Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS). They have a database that anyone can use to verify a license. You simply put in the name the company is advertising under and it will tell you whether that company is a licensed firm. As I suspected, no matches were found. They are not licensed to operate as a Private Investigator nor as a Security Operator (required to provide bodyguard services). I knew this would be the case going in because the State of California will not issue a license to a company that has the word “police” as part of its company name. Use of the word “police” in the context of any license is strictly forbidden by California State law.
On the contact page of “American Police Force” is the phone number (714) 647-3000. This is a Santa Ana, California number and is listed as their “West Coast Mainline”. Providing this number for the purposes of inquiring about investigative services as they are advertised on the American Police Force website is a violation of California State law and punishable under the Private Investigator’s Act which states:
“Unlicensed persons who represent themselves as licensed or act as private investigators are committing a misdemeanor and may be jailed for up to one year and fined $5,000.”
As an added measure, I attempted to reach someone by phone at BSIS to do a verbal verification but found they were closed today (Oct. 2) in accordance with the Governor’s furlough mandate.
I was able to file a complaint online at www.bsis.ca.gov/industries_regulated/uaau.shtml with the “Unlicensed Activity Action Unit” so they could follow up. I’m sure the more complaints filed will result in a better chance that this issue receives the attention it deserves.
Returning to the contact page of “American Police Force” also brought to my attention an “East Coast Mainline” phone number of (202) 379-4910. This is a Washington D.C. number. After some research I determined that responsibility for security and private investigator’s licenses came under the jurisdiction of the “District of Columbia Security Officer’s Manager’s Branch”. I phoned them at (202) 671-0500 and spoke with an Officer Francis who verified that “American Police Force” was not licensed to operate as a private investigation agency or as a security firm. She confirmed that if “American Police Force” was in fact advertising and offering investigative services under that name and directed inquiries to that Washington D.C. number, then they would be in violation of the law. She sounded very concerned and assured me that she would conduct inquiries into the matter “today”. When I asked if she had heard of “American Police Force” or the scandal in Montana concerning them she said she had not.
The one conclusion I’m drawing from all this is that “American Police Force” is a scam of epic proportions. If, in fact, there is some larger entity driving this company from behind the scenes, it appears (at least to this observer) that they are an utterly incompetent, motley crew of bumbling con artists that may (at best) inspire an interesting screenplay along the lines of a low-budget “Ocean’s 11”….except with a very ugly cast.
This article was posted: Friday, October 2, 2009 at 11:31 am