Undercover reporting sting stages a lockout

Undercover reporting sting stages a lockout
Avoid locksmith scams

While researching locksmith scams, Angie's List Magazine found what appeared to be multiple companies in Indianapolis using bogus addresses occupied by a Chinese restaurant, a parking lot and other unrelated businesses. We decided to call one and stage a lockout scenario at an Indianapolis home.

On a weekday morning, the homeowner called a company advertising online as "A to Z Indianapolis Locksmith" with an address of 111 Monument Circle and a local phone number. There are no locksmith businesses at that address, which is a high rise in the center of downtown.

The initial quote and service call

On an initial call, a dispatcher quoted a price of $24.99 for the service call and $30 per hour for labor. On a second call, the dispatcher referred the homeowner to the technician, who offered an estimate of $95.

The technician, who arrived in an unmarked vehicle and identified himself as an Israeli immigrant named Matthew Levi, examined the lock and insisted it couldn't be picked and needed to be drilled. He finished the work in about 10 minutes and presented a bill for $150.

Boss defends quality of service

When questioned about his employer, Levi called his boss. The man, who gave his name only as Ricki, says his company shuttered their downtown Indianapolis office and were considering opening a new storefront. He says he manages a company office in Jacksonville, Fla., and has locksmith technicians like Levi in multiple states.

"That has nothing to do with the [quality of] service we are giving," Ricki says.

Related: Locked out? How to avoid a locksmith scam

But Kevin Freund, co-owner of highly rated Welworth Lock Company in Indianapolis, evaluated the lock and said it may not have needed to be drilled.

"I would at least try to pick it first," says Freund, who also pointed out the technician installed the wrong kind of latch bolt, which left a gap between the lock mechanism and the door's edge. "Security-wise, that's about useless."

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