Lack of licensing opens door to fraud in Colorado

Monday, March 1, 2004

DENVER - A former Parker, Colo., resident has been

indicted under a state grand jury for defrauding several area businesses and individuals of more than $100,000 in cash in connection with his failure to install security systems.

Theodore Salmon, who at press time still remained at large, has been charged with 10 felony counts of theft and forgery. If found guilty, he faces up to 40 years in prison.

State officials say the charges were based on 20 accounts by people who were deceived by Salmon into paying him down payments for installations or equipment that failed to be fulfilled.

“We have received scores of phone calls since we went public with this,” said Ken Lane, the state’s deputy attorney general Colorado. “We are assuming there are more than 20 victims.”

Salmon operated four businesses in Parker, Englewood and Denver under the names Professional Observations Systems, Digital Security Systems, Digital Security Products and Ultimate Security Solutions. Through these businesses, he claimed to install security and home theater systems, and sold computer and video recording equipment to clients in Colorado, Oregon, California and as far away as Maryland.

Dr. Rick Ostopowicz, communications manager at the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, said a general business-licensing requirement in the state might have prevented the incidents.

“One of the things we looked at is that Colorado does not have statewide licensing,” he said. “Statewide licensing, which the NBFAA highly supports, can be utilized to prevent something like this from happening.”

Although the security industry is no stranger to fraud schemes, Ostopowicz said each occurrence damages the industry‘s image.

“It is undoubtedly a black eye,” he said. “Something like this will affect other companies because people will be a bit leery.”

Both Lane and Ostopowicz stressed that consumers need to take measures to protect themselves. Researching potential partners through local organizations like the Better Business Bureau and checking a company’s references can help deter fraud.

“It’s legwork, but people need to do it,” Lane said.

Consumers can also check a company’s validity through organizations such as the NBFAA. None of Salmon’s business ventures were affiliated with the association.

“We want to make sure people know that hopefully through the power of associations like the NBFAA, consumers will not have to worry and can choose a company they are happy with,” said Ostopowicz. “We have 2,400 of them.”