P.I. Moms: The Truth Behind the Scam: Carl, Ami, Meagan

Faked for TV?
“I worked for Chris Butler for about two-and-a-half years,” Carl says. “He’s a bigger than life kind of guy — very authoritative, very charming. Chris Butler duped the media, including People magazine, the Today Show, Dr. Phil, and various other ones, into thinking he was running a P.I. business that was being staffed by moms. In fact, most of the cases that were seen on TV or in print were fake cases with actors and actresses," he alleges.

“Chris’ ultimate goal from the very first day was to get a reality TV show,” Carl says. “The reason that Chris would tell people that he was using moms as P.I.s was because of the way that they can problem solve, and have a better sense of what’s going on. The real reason was just because the mom idea is what got the most interest. Chris stressed how much training these women had — this intense six-month training period. That was basically false. There was no training period for these women. He would throw them right out into the field. Chris had advertised all these P.I. moms as these high-speed, gun-toting women, when in fact, most of them had never even touched a handgun. Ultimately, Lifetime TV was very interested and ended up signing on to produce the P.I. Moms show. The only problem was, he had gotten that deal based on fake cases and fake media appearances. So, once Lifetime TV came in, he didn’t really have anything to offer them as far as real cases went.”

Meagan, Carl and Ami are three private investigators who worked for Chris Butler.

[AD]Dr. Phil notes that in his “P.I. Moms” episode in 2010, Meagan and Ami were sitting in the audience. “How much did you know was fake at the time that the [Dr. Phil] show was shot?” he asks them.

Ami says, “I was under the impression that everything was real.”

“I knew that pretty much all of it was fake,” Carl says.

“I knew that some of it was real, some of it was fake,” Meagan says.

“Well, I’m curious. Why didn’t anybody tell us?” Dr. Phil asks.Dr. Phil points out that Carl knew that the firearm training wasn’t real, that Michelle and Denise, two of the P.I. moms featured, had no firearms training. “He didn’t just say, ‘She worked here for six months,’ what he said was, ‘We have a rigorous six-month training program, and if they don’t make the grade, they wash out; and most of them do.’ That was a complete lie, correct?” he asks.

Ami says that she came in with experience as a deputy sheriff and was immediately put into the field.

“You knew it was a lie,” he says to Carl.

“Once I saw it, I knew it was a lie, yes,” he says.

“Did you ever think to call me and tell me that wasn’t true?” Dr. Phil asks him.

“I thought a lot of things, as far as what I should and shouldn’t do,” he says. “You have to understand Chris Butler, and the type of person he is and how he runs his business. He’s not the type of person you want to cross, number one. And once I did start tipping everyone off, the people I tipped off did contact your people also, to let them know it had all been fake.”

“This is like a year after the fact,” Dr. Phil notes.

Dr. Phil goes over the three stings that were featured on his show. Which were faked for the TV cameras?

[AD]Meagan admits that she knew the massage parlor sting was fake. She says because the team had recently failed in busting another fraud previously, Chris berated them and told them they had to fake this one, “because if we don’t, we can’t control the outcome, and then we’re not going to get these media appearances, and then we’re not going to get what we want, which is more cases.”

Dr. Phil reiterates his incredulity at the fact that no one clued him in on the fake stings.