7 ON YOUR SIDE
Aug. 22, 2007 - KGO - Investigators suspect there may be a link between a Bay Area locksmith and a possible scam that stretches from here to New York. It's a story seven on your side has been investigating for months, and whether there's a connection or not.
"I think he took advantage of an old lady. Whether he meant it or not, I don't know," said Rose Golobic from San Bruno.
Rose Golobic of San Bruno says a locksmith charged her $1,500 dollars to change her lock. She knows now she paid 15 times the going rate.
She says an unlicensed locksmith drove her to the bank so she could pay him.
"I was so upset. I probably shouldn't have gone with him, but I did it. and drew up $1, 500 dollars. Lucky I had it," said Rose Golobic of San Bruno.
It's her story that lead to the arrest of 29-year old Moshe Mizrachi. He faces trial next month on elderly abuse and identity theft charges in San Mateo County.
He's suspected of a scam similar to the one Dependable Locksmith is accused of running out of New York. The Better Business Bureau says the company quotes one rate over the phone, then charges something much higher.
That's what Geraldine Moore of San Francisco says happened to her.
"He just said it would be $100 dollars. As it turned out it was $500 dollars," said Geraldine Moore of San Francisco.
She says the locksmith identified himself as Idan Finkelstein and asked Geraldine to pay with a personal check made out to him. Finkelstein is the man identified at Moshe Mizrachi's arraignment as the locksmith's partner. Finkelstein has not been charged with any crime, and they are both are part of USA A-1 Locksmith.
Locksmiths and at least one investigator we talked to say USA A-1 Locksmith here in the Bay Area and dependable in New York may somehow be tied together.
Our sister station in New York decided to pay Dependable a visit.
"Hi, how are you? We're from Channel 7. Do you work here?" Said the reporter.
"No," said the unidentified person.
"No? That's very interesting. You just wondering around here? We'd like to talk to someone. You know the Better Business Bureau has called you very disreputable. Misleading," said the reporter.
"Excuse me. This is private property. You guys have to get off the property," said the second unidentified person.
"Come on. There you go," said the first unidentified person.
"Let me ask you. The Better Business Bureau says this is a particularly," said the reporter.
"No comment," said the second unidentified person.
There are numerous similarities between Dependable and USA A-1 Locksmith. Investigators say many involved with Dependable are from Israel. Part of USA A-1's Web site is coded in Hebrew.
"That prompted me to do some more searching. Looking at the domain name, USA A-1 Locksmith, found out the site is hosted out of Israel," said Matt Sawicki, a Web developer.
Both companies use multiple names and phone numbers. The Better Business Bureau says Dependable goes by at least 50 other names including A-1 Locksmith Service.
USA A-1 also goes by several names including A-1 San Bruno Locksmith, and the Better Business Bureau says both also target people locked out of their cars and homes.
"The locksmith comes out. You're locked out of your car in the middle of the night. You're locked out of your house. There's not much you can do. You're going to pay the price," said Gene O'Neil from the Better Business Bureau.
Investigators say dependable spread out from New York to such cities as Phoenix, Chicago, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Colorado Springs, and the Bay Area.
It's believed all calls are routed to a calling center in New York.
USA A-1 Locksmith is set up throughout the Bay Area and all calls were forwarded to this call center in San Francisco before it was abandoned.
ABC7 reported back in March that according to a former employee that company has plans to expand nationwide. The Better Business Bureau says dependable using the name superb solutions was in the bay area less than a year ago.
"We had a few complaints on them and then they're gone," said O'Neil.
But one investigator suspects USA A-1 Locksmith is an offshoot of dependable.
"I have some information although unconfirmed that some of these companies, the spin offs, were previous employees of SOS or Dependable out of New York," said Kent Paluga from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
One major difference, USA A-1 Locksmith is accused of bilking its customers for a lot more money; sometimes $500 dollars, sometimes even thousands of dollars.
"I think it was very bad for me to lose that amount of money because I got locked out of my house," said Moore.
Although victims of USA A-1 Locksmith have come forward in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda and Sacramento counties, so far only San Mateo county has pressed charges.
To read other Seven On Your Side locksmith investigations, click here.
Copyright 2007, ABC7/KGO-TV/DT.
BBB Warns Consumers of Nationwide Locksmith Swindle
You may have been a victim and not even know it.
For Immediate Release
Arlington, VA – July 10, 2007 – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) today is warning consumers to beware of untrustworthy locksmith companies that are ripping off consumers across the country.
Victim complaints to the BBB reveal that several locksmith companies, all using similar methods, are significantly overcharging consumers, charging consumers for unnecessary services, using intimidation tactics, and failing to give refunds or respond to consumer complaints.
“Ironically, these companies operate under names like ‘Dependable Locksmith’ but in reality they exploit the vulnerable situation of consumers who are locked out of their house or car,” said Steve Cox spokesperson for the BBB System. “We’ve found that some locksmiths have made taking advantage of consumers’ misfortune part of their business model.”
Complaints about locksmith services to the 114 BBBs serving the U.S. increased almost 75 percent from 2005 to 2006, and have continued to come in steadily during the first half of this year.
The BBB has identified Dependable Locksmith – which operates under more than a dozen different names – as a particularly disreputable locksmith. This company poses as a local locksmith in cities across the country and advertises in the yellow pages using local phone numbers and fake local addresses. A consumer might think they’re dealing with a local locksmith but their phone call is actually connected to a call center located in the Bronx borough of New York City.
Consumers are quoted a reasonable price over the phone but when the locksmith arrives – typically in an unmarked vehicle – he demands significantly more money than originally quoted, often only accepting cash.
A complaint from Cleveland, OH, where Dependable Locksmith was operating under the name “Superb Solutions,” alleges the company quoted fees of $39 and $84 for separate jobs, but the bill ended up at $471, which included add-on fees such as a $65 breaking in fee and a $58 fee to uninstall old locks.
Another complainant reported that the locksmith sent to let her into her car demanded she pay twice the price quoted over the phone. The locksmith offered to drive her to an ATM to get cash – feeling unsafe the victim refused. The victim was ultimately forced to write a check made out personally to the locksmith as he would not let her into her car until she did so. She cancelled payment on the check the next morning, but eventually filed a police report after the locksmith harassed her with continuous phone calls about payment.
The BBB has also heard many complaints from victims who say they were charged for unnecessary services. For example, complainants suspect locksmiths sent over by Dependable Locksmiths of pretending they couldn’t simply pick the lock so that they could charge more and install all new locks in homes.
Some of Dependable Locksmith’s aliases include, Superb Solutions, Locksmith 24 Hour, Inc., USA Total Security, Priceline Locksmith, and S.O.S. Locksmith.
Two other locksmith contractors fleecing consumers are Basad, Inc. – which operates under more than 50 names nationwide, such as A-1 Locksmith Service, A-1 24 Hour Locksmith, A-1 Lock & Key Locksmith, and AAA Locksmith 24 Hour – and Liberty Locksmith. Similar to Dependable Locksmith, they pose as local locksmiths and run full-page yellow pages ads with multiple phone and address listings. The phone numbers appear to be local, but connect to national call centers such as Liberty’s in New York City, while the addresses end up belonging to other established businesses in the local area, or are simply non-existent.
Liberty Locksmith had been a BBB member in Tulsa, OK, but during normal BBB member validation processes, it was discovered that the addresses provided by the company were false. In June 2007, the BBB terminated the membership of Liberty Locksmith for providing false information in its membership application and providing misleading advertisements to the public.
Like others, Liberty Locksmith and Basad, Inc. use common cons such as quoting one price over the phone, but then charging significantly more on site.
“These companies are very good at posing as trustworthy locksmiths,” said Mr. Cox. “Before you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being locked out of your car or house, do your research and find a truly dependable locksmith in your area. Ask around and always check with the BBB first to find reputable businesses.”
If you feel you’ve been taken advantage of by Dependable Locksmith, Liberty Locksmith, Basad. Inc., or others, please contact the BBB to file a complaint, or do so online at www.bbb.org.
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About the BBB System
BBB is an unbiased, non-profit entity that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses and charities that earn BBB membership contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business Reliability Reports and charity Wise Giving Reports, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 128 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 3 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.
# # #
Reporters and journalists may contact Steve Cox, CBBB's Vice President, Communications, or call 703.276.0100 to request an interview or additional information.
If you are a consumer who is seeking additional information, or need assistance with a complaint against a business, please contact your local BBB, visit the BBB web site (www.bbb.org) or call 703.276.0100.
© 2003 Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Locksmith firms agree to correct addresses
MARIAN GAIL BROWN email@example.com
Article Last Updated: 01/03/2008 11:26:46 PM EST
Advertising by two locksmith companies operating in Connecticut will have to list the address where they do business, state Department of Consumer Protection officials said Thursday, following nearly a yearlong investigation that revealed the locksmiths' telephone directory ads listed them as being in places they were not.
Under the voluntary compliance agreement the companies entered with the DCP, neither Champion Locksmith of Jackson Heights in New York nor Liberty Locksmith LLC in Orange admitted to any violation of law. The agreement with DCP settles the department's charge that the two locksmith companies misled consumers into believing they ran their businesses out of various locations in Connecticut.
From 2005 forward, print ads that appeared in local telephone directories listed Champion as being in Stamford, Middletown, West Hartford, Rocky Hill, New London, Mystic and Norwich. During that same period, Liberty Locksmith LLC's ads identified the business having presence in those same towns when it fact, neither business was situated there.
"Using deceptive advertising to sell services to consumers constitutes an unfair trade practice that may be prosecuted under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act," state DCP Commissioner Jerry Farrell Jr. said. "If the companies were found guilty of these unfair deeds, stringent administrative sanctions were at our disposal. Wisely, both companies came forth immediately to meet with our attorneys and forged an agreement
that immediately halts their questionable activity and continues to hold them accountable."
Both businesses will pay the state DCP a $500 penalty.
Locksmiths in Connecticut are not required to be licensed or registered by the state. Only Illinois requires them to be licensed. The General Assembly considered similar legislation several years ago, but that bill failed.
"We received a complaint that these locksmiths weren't really where their ads claimed they were based," Richard Maloney, director of DCP's Trade Practices Division, said. "When we sent our people out to investigate the addresses that were in the ads, we found variety shops and other businesses that had no knowledge that their addresses appeared in these ads."
By including a local address, the locksmiths gave consumers the impression that they were in the neighborhood, Maloney said, which may increase the likelihood that consumers would call them if they were locked out of a building and in need of urgent service.
No consumers filed any complaints about either of the locksmith companies, Maloney said, adding that there was never any allegation of shoddy workmanship or overcharging.
Both businesses are owned by Bradley Steitz, and the general manager of the businesses is Paul Mantini, according to DCP records. Mantini said the addresses reflected in the ads were old addresses for the business, where it once dispatched locksmiths from. "We don't do that anymore," he said. "I used to have locksmiths in certain areas. I've never had any complaints against my business. There's a locksmith who worked for me once — and I know who he is and where he is — who is trying to put me out of business. I'm just a small person trying to make a living. We have warranties on all our locks. I give senior citizens discounts. I give crime victims discounts, too. "
From now on, Mantini said, all of the firms' ads will reflect their current addresses. It was a mistake, he said, not to have updated that in the locksmiths' former advertising. "And now I've got it corrected. There are no problems with our ads," he said.
MariAn Gail Brown, who covers regional issues, can be reached at 330-6288.
295 W. 231st
Bronx, New York, 10463
Submitted: 3/5/2008 3:53:18 PM
Modified: 3/5/2008 3:53:00 PM
We locked our keys in our car yesterday and I thought I was calling a local locksmith. Come to find out they are crooks whose call center is based out of New York and they quote you a price on the phone and end up sending contracts out to your location where they WILL overcharge you. This makes you feel helpless especially when you are at the impound lot and they are about to close. On the phone, Dependable Locks told me it would be 39.99 plus 15.00 per difficulty to get in the vehicle. Also we think they are mostly illegal immigrants. Last night when the first locksmith showed up from the company, when he was asked to show his I.D. at the impound lot, he left and ran off and left my husband just standing there. He said he would call someone else to come out and help us. It was a horrible situation last night and so I got on the internet today to see if they were listed on /link removed/ and they are! I just wish I knew this before hand and at the time we had no other number for a locksmith. I don't want this to happen to anyone else in our area. These people are crooks and they need to be dealt with for taking advantage of people. One website stated their call center and main office are not in NY anymore that they went to Clearwater FL because there were so many complaints against them. When you go on the internet to anywho.com to look up a locksmith they come up more than anyone else also. It's also under A 24 Hour A Locks & Locksmith. Not sure what you can do, but it would be nice for these people to be exposed! Our bill ended up being 39.00 plus 110.00 total 149.00. My poor husband was sucked into this payment because he felt like he had no other choice.
I had called a locksmith yesterday when I got locked out of my house. I had never called one before and had no idea what they charged. The add said "Locksmith 24 Hour, Inc." The name on the bill was "Dependable Locks, Inc." out of Clearwater Fla. I had to pay 149.00 and he wanted cash. When I told him I didn't have the cash he asked, "How much do you have?" I told him I had 60.00. He then took that and put the rest on a credit card that he called in to verify. He looked as if he was from the Middle East and had an unmarked car. I commented on his PA licence plates. He seemed nervous. I'm going to watch my credit card very close! Beware!
Dependable Locks Inc - CAR KEYSI 'VE LOST MY KEYS TO THE CAR, I CALLED DEPENDABLE LOCKS INC, EXPLAIN TO JASON I LOST MY KEYS, CANT GET IN THE CAR, WAS QUOTED A RATE OF $185. I TOLD JASON I WOULD CALL BACK, NEED TO DO MORE SHOPPING AROUND FOR A BETTER PRICE. I ENDED UP CALLING THEM BACK. MADE THE APPOINTMENT FOR FRIDAY 12/12/2008. THE LOCKSMITH CAME BY, I HAD MY BOYFRIEND WATCH TO MAKE SURE THINGS WERE GOING SMOOTHLY. I HAD TO BE AT WORK. CAME HOME TO FIND THE TRUCK OF MY CAR MESS UP. MEANING THE PART WHERE YOU PUT THE KEY IN TO OPEN THE TRUCK WAS GONE. THEN THEY HAD THE NERVE TO CHARGE ME $ 225. $40 FOR OPENING THE CAR, WHICH WAS NOT EXPLAIN TO ME AT THE TIME OF MAKING THE APPOINTMENT. GAVE $10 OFF FOR MESS THE TRUCK AND ASKING MY BOYFRIEND TO FINISH THE JOB, BCUZ HE HAD TO GET TO ANOTHER JOB, WHILE MAKING PERSONAL PHONE CALLS. I CALLED THE SERVICE TO EXPLAIN, ALL THEY TOLD ME WAS I NEVER TOLD THEM THE CAR WASNT OPEN. ( WHICH MAKES NO SENSE, I GOT LOCKED OUT CAR CANT OPEN ) WHAT KIND OF COMPANY ASK THE CUSTOMER TO FINISH THE JOB BCUZ THEY HAD TO MAKE EXTRA MONEY. IN THE END I LOST MONEY FOR THE WORST JOB EVER!!! I WOULD NEVER RECOMMEND THIS PLACE TO A DOG. THEY NEED TO CLOSE DOWN THE BUSINESS!!! DO NOT GO OR CALL DEPENDABLE LOCKS INC 781 - 715-1215
DEPENDABLE LOCKS INC
I got ripped off by Dependable Locks Inc.
I live in Torrance, California.
Instead of writing about my rip off experience.
I would like to share with you what I know about
Dependable Locks, Inc.
They are located in Clearwater, FL 33765-3514
Address: 407 S. Arturas Ave.
President: Mr. David Peer
They have a BBB or F record with the Better Business
Bureau of Clearwater, Florida.
I suggest you write a complaint letter to this bureau.
Their address is: 2655 McCormick Dr.,
Clearwater, FL 33759.
I also suggest writing a letter to the Federal Trade
Commission in Washington D.C. Google for address.
Dependable Locks Inc - Bait and SwitchI called Priceline Locksmith for rekeying my condo that I had just moved into. They said that they would have someone over in 30 minutes. He was over an hour and a half late and then wanted to charge $185.00 when I was quoted $39.97 on the phone. He also operated under the name Depnedable Locksmith Inc.. I told the guy to leave after the bait and switch and then got a call from the "owner". He said he would do it for & $80. I was so fed up and anxious to get the locks rekeyed I agreed. Please don’t call them based on the fake good reviews like I did. They are a scam!!!
Dependable Locks Inc
Dependable Locks Inc - Bait and Switchdependable locks, no scame.no fraud.true emergency help locksmith service, thank u for unlocking my car free when my son were inside
dependable locks inc
you must be part of the scam!!!