Police in Palm Beach, Florida, have arrested a man from Boynton Beach on fraud and burglary charges on Tuesday. The man purportedly misrepresented himself to clients as an employee of a legitimate locksmith company in West Palm Beach. Locksmith Toronto brings you the story.
The 46-year-old Joshua Levy was charging exorbitant prices for minor work according to police. Levy was taken to the County Jail and charged with a count of burglary and two counts of attaining property through false impersonation.
Fred Hess, the police spokesman, said that the entire country has “copycat” locksmiths operating.
The scam works like this: a website is created with a name similar to that of a legitimate company, but with a single letter off. People seeking assistance click on the copycat site and are directed to a number of the fake technician. The fraudulent technician answers the call and will do a shoddy job and then overcharges. The customer will be asked to write a check to his personal name not the name of the company.
A sting procedure was carried out after residents and many businesses complained. The numerous complaints prompted the Palm Beach Police Organized Crime, Vice and Narcotics (OCVAN) Unit to execute the operation which resulted in the arrest.
One of the legitimate businesses being used as a copy for the fake business is Wilson Rowan Locksmith, which according to an affidavit has lost over $50,000 in 2012 alone. On searching the company, two websites result. One address is the actual or real company address, wilsonrowanlocksmith.com, while the fake one, wilsonrowanlocksmiths.com. Notice the difference?
On Tuesday, police working undercover called the fake number asking for a lock change. The man answering the call confirmed that he was from the company and gave a quote of $25 for the lock change and service call charges as $59.95
The man showed up and when asked the company name again gave the real company name. He changed only the cylinder of the lock and not the lock and gave a price of $115 service call and $60 and $55 for service call and lock change respectively. He insisted that the check be written in his name. He was paid and then intercepted as he was leaving the house.
When police called the owner of the company Richard Rowan, he said that he hadn’t gotten any calls from the address or sent anyone there.
Levy confessed to doing a job at a gallery last year that he charged $295.68 using the name of the Rowan Company. Hess urged residents to beware of people claiming to be technicians as they could “work” on home locks and make duplicate keys for your home. Locksmith Toronto advises that you do some research before you hire a locksmith. Try some of the review web sites on the Internet.