Attorney General Martha Coakley Files Suit Against Bronx Locksmith Company and Its Owners for Role in Locksmith Scheme
"The defendants have repeatedly taken advantage of vulnerable consumers who are locked out of their homes and cars," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "By saturating Massachusetts phone books with their false advertisements and overcharging customers for their services, the defendants have not only harmed consumers, but also negatively affected legitimate locksmith companies in the Commonwealth."
According to the complaint, filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, Dependable Locks Inc., run by principals David Peer and Adam Olivkovich, is a locksmith company that operates under at least a dozen different aliases and acted as a front for a scheme by which consumers were deceived through false advertising, false low estimates, and high pressure tactics. Consumers were targeted by the defendants, who would pose as local locksmiths by advertising in Massachusetts phone books and on the Internet by using local phone numbers and false regional addresses. Typically, Dependable Locks' aliases began with the letter "A" or numbers to ensure placement at the beginning of the phone book listings. However, when a consumer called one of the defendants' listed local numbers, they actually reached an operator at a call center in the Bronx, New York. The corresponding addresses listed with Dependable Locks' aliases are false and are actually used by other non-related businesses or are personal addresses. Some of the aliases that the defendants used include 123 24 Hour A Locks & Locksmith, 24 Hour A Locks & Locksmith, A Emergency A Locksmith, and Emergency A Locks & Locksmith.
Once a consumer made contact with the call center, the operator would then quote an artificially low price for the service and fail to indicate that they only accept cash payment. The complaint further explains that the call center would dispatch a locksmith in an unmarked vehicle. Instead of picking the lock, the locksmith would replace the entire lock unit, often in a shoddy manner, and use high-pressure tactics and intimidation to force customers into paying previously undisclosed fees often hundreds of dollars more than the price consumers were originally quoted over the phone. According to the complaint, in one instance a consumer was charged over $800 after being quote a price of $54 over the phone.
The Attorney General's Office alleges that the defendants have violated the Attorney General's regulations by failing to provide an advance written estimate of repairs to customers, making or charging for repairs that have not been authorized by customers, representing that repairs are necessary-when such is not a fact, and failing to provide customers with an itemized list of repairs.
A hearing has been scheduled on the Attorney General's request for a preliminary injunction on September 10, 2009, at 2:00 p.m., in Suffolk Superior Court.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Shannon Choy-Seymour of Attorney General Coakley's Consumer Protection Division with assistance from Jake Harney of Attorney General Coakley's Investigations Division.