Google Maps vs Locksmith Spammers: Spammers winning?

The Locksmith industry has always looked to me like an industry of self dealing and dishonest promotion that, when combined with Google Maps, created a mosh pit of sleaze. As a result I never examined it very closely in the context of Google Maps.

Locksmiths are a little hard to love. They aren’t Mom and Apple Pie, they aren’t florists who we can all identify with when things go wrong. The industry is hyper-competitive and they have been at the forefront of cracking all sorts of locks, unfortunately not always the ones that they should be cracking. They were early into blackhat reviews, one of the dominant sources of bulk upload spam and were first to the party in compromising the records claimed in the Local Business Center.

Google wasn’t their first target. The “blackhats” in the industry have used whatever marketing vehicle was “au courant“, whether it was the phone books, 411 or now Google and Yahoo.

Here is a BBB alert from 2007, BBB Warns Consumers of Nationwide Locksmith Swindle and a recent ABC news article and video. The Associated Locksmiths of America provides a list of over 110 news reports over the past several years from across the nation detailing the abuses*. As you can see, consumers have paid the price of these many scams with high prices, rip-off installs and even theft.

But the reality is that Locksmiths come in varying shades from white to black and consumers are not the only ones short changed when the blackhats are allowed to abuse the system. The legitimate locksmiths suffer as well. Folks like PureSheer feel it necessary to go “black” to compete but many are just left with the loss of business and no real understanding why.

Google is changing the playing field of local marketing and they are defining it in a whole new way. They are on the battle lines between doing it right and letting the “bad guys” have their way. If Verizon can pull a hundred thousand phone listings from the directory, is it too much to ask of Google to be vigilant and proactive?

Here is a search,”emergency locksmiths NY NY” on Google that shows how deeply the problem is embedded in Google and why they need to be more proactive in their mapspam battles. This search highlights not just the spam problems but the downsides of some of Google’s decisions around the Local 10 Pack. It illustrates why it might be a good idea to refine it in such a way as to prevent “branded” searches from dominating an obviously generic search and to minimize the impact of the business title on relevance and rank.

locksmith-spam

Every number here goes to the same call center, located who knows where, for dispatch of (at best) third party providers. A quick count in Maps of the domains showed over 5000 listings.

The problem is not just in NYC but rather it is nationwide. As you fan out across the US, every major market seems to be polluted with a criss crossing network of spammy listings often dominating the 10 Pack:

emergency locksmith miami
emergency locksmith dallas

Each number in the domains often leads to the same call center as above. You often can switch the name of the cities (in each domain) or the location of the word ‘locksmith’ in it & you’ll find that it is often owned by the same folks or others with similar intentions.

Another search technique that uncovers lots of similar and probably related listings is to add the three digit area codes to the search. I have not tested all of these domains but the result is likely the same:

emergency locksmith 866 chicago
emergency locksmith 866 San Diego
emergency locksmith 866 los angeles

Here is a measles eye view of the locksmith “locations” in San Francisco (also see NYC view) that graphically portrays the extent of the index pollution problem:

measelsviewsf

Isn’t it time for Google to stop reacting to spam and establish a more proactive policy of removing it from their index? Is banning a few blackhats enough? Should they not be actively searching them out and banning them all?

* Here is one with no little irony: Blagojevich Administration Suspends License of Dependable Locksmith for False License Information

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps vs Locksmith Spammers: Spammers winning? by

104 thoughts on “Google Maps vs Locksmith Spammers: Spammers winning?”

  1. News from the front lines;

    The first District attorneys in California have now opened cases regarding locksmith scams. The recent amendment to the State law gives them authority to be the lead agency in court cases. I have spoken with the DA’s from 2 counties in the last month. This is the first real enforcement action on the west coast.

    They may have been encouraged by the State of Missouri who has sued one of the worst offenders who is based in Florida. The State of Missouri’s Attorney General also sent a demand letter to YellowPages.com asking for removal of fraudulent locksmith listings. States hove that power. Just need to use it.

    So state laws are already there, just need enforcement.

    The federal law is also really very clear on this topic, it’s just enforcement has been lacking. In 2005 Congress passed the Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act. Specifically it amends the Lanham and Copyright Acts. It is a FELONY to “knowingly provide misleading false contact information” Section 3559 of title 18 of the United States Code. A common misunderstanding is the laws have not caught up with the internet, but that is not the problem. The laws are there for fraud, and that is what this is. What is lacking is enforcement.

    Every person who counts on internet search has a dog in this fight. SEO professionals will need to get involved with the solution, or lose their ability to positively effect search for their customers.
    This is not about locksmiths, it’s about fraud and search.
    Take time today to tell your verion of this story to your local district attorney, your state attorney, and why not the U.S. Attorney while you are at it. They need to hear from you.
    -G

  2. I am a locksmith who has a small shop and mobile service here in San Francisco operating at 4002 Irving St. My address has been hijacked on google maps by one of these dishonest “locksmith” companies. I have been trying to have it removed for the past two weeks to no avail. I have tried verifying the address but the fake locksmith (BMY Locksmith) keeps popping up. Totally frustrating, first it was the fake phone listings and now the fake google maps listings. Arghh!!!!! If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them.

  3. @Kevin

    Can you provide us with the information that is supposed to be in the record and the url to the thread where you reported it?

  4. The problem you are experiencing is nationwide. First, try to make sure who it is that actually answers the phone in the listing, to properly identify the company, and in any correspondence with Google, it would be important to reinforce with them who that company is. This helps us all, who are experiencing a similar problem, to make it abundantly clear who the companies are that actually answer all those phone numbers. It is important that you be prepared to provide any documentation showing how long you have had the trade name in use, your business license with that same name on it, and any pictures of your shop to show you in front of your shop with something in it clearly indicating your name. While it is my understanding that the maps “team” cannot be reached by phone, I would recommend, if you are advertising with adwords, to contact an adwords representative and tell them you have no intention of advertising AT ALL with adwords until your listing information with the Google map is fixed for good. This is voting with your wallet, so to speak, and that is what I have been doing to get their attention. Additionally, if you are being advised by an attorney, there is such a thing as culpability through neglect, and Google’s map results, as they are now, are being exploited by these PHONY LOCKSMITH companies through Google’s neglect to provide valid information about the REAL locksmith company’s address. I have begun putting placards on my vans that state: “IF YOU EVER NEED A LOCKSMITH DON’T USE GOOGLE”.

  5. The locksmith wars are real. I’ve just returned from the front. I’ve been working with Artie’s Locksmith in NYC. We finally pushed our way through the spammers and into the number one position. It wasn’t easy. It required 3 people from Arties locksmith and myself. We worked with Google to clean up duplicate sites that were perpetuated by phone directories and we followed basic seo techniques.

    In the course of this endeavor I would see rogue sites popping up in front of us that did not have the basic elements in their listing to receive such favorable rankings. My guess is that they were somehow creating illigitimate traffic to their website and map listings.

    I also saw a few sites that merged their listings with totally unrelated businesses to build a bigger web history and get more favorable rankings. We were actually able to report a couple of these to Google and they were removed from the map listing.

    Bottom line, traditional SEO work prevailed.

  6. These days you can never be too careful about the people you associate with. A sign of the times I suppose.

  7. I never realized that something like this could be a problem. I’m sure that there are other industries that are having similar problems. Scary for sure.

  8. I recently have been a victim of this scam. I live in Las Vegas and as an unaware consumer never asked the locksmith for any credentials. Robin’s post rings all too true.

    We ended up putting a stop payment on our credit card, because we didn’t want to take the chance of falling victim to this rampant scam.

    Not to sound racist, but the gentleman was from another country. I’m guessing his girlfriend was dispatch and his boss.

  9. Progress…
    The fraudulent listings in my town (San Diego) have reduced from over 3,000 to now under 1,000. The map spammers are still in the entire 10 pak and well represented, but now they are only 75% of the listings. Google users are still more likely to see or find a scammer but Google is doing something to make a difference.

    With 3 out of 4 listings fraudulent addresses, there is lots more to do. Glad to hear basic SEO stuff is working in the NYC area.

  10. Harold Fink is just as bad as the scammers. Geonames?? Hal give me a freaking break. Pasadena Locksmith, Glen Burnie Locksmith, wheres your office in Clarksville?? Wheaton?? Bethesda?? No office…. Just a bunch of damn phone #’s that all ring to Harold Fink on the eastern shore of MD. Hey Harold why do you answer the phone “locksmith” and not “Safe and Lock Masters” or”Emergency Locksmith” or is it “Ellicott City Locksmith” or is it “Stevensville Locksmith” Hey at least if you answered Stevensville people would have an idea of where you are…. In short get to know a LOCAL locksmith, stop in and get an extra key, grab a card put it in your purse, desk, console.

  11. Recently Google has been slamming locksmith spam so hard it appears to me that the situation is going to the other extreme. I work with locksmiths in my role as a search engine submitter. Today I talked to a locksmith in Arlington Virginia. He told me he has worked out of his house for a year. His company is called Security Locksmith. From what he told me, he is serving people in his local area. He uses a local phone number. He admits that he registered his company on Google, using a trade name – 24 hour emergency locksmith. His listing was then flagged. He changed his name back to his company name, and began taking out keywords. He subsequently found that his listing was flagged, until he entirely removed the word locksmith from any text field in the Google application. Since locksmith is actually part of his legally registered name, he shouldn’t be flagged.
    I had another locksmith and call me about the same problem. I was told he also had a br\rick and mortar business in Nashville. However, this man had a toll free number. I tried to register his business and it was flagged. I then took out any term with locksmith, and the listing was finally changed to waiting for submission. I then decided to test the system. I just added back the word “emergency mobile locksmith,” and the listing was again flagged. Later I found out from the man that he really lived in another State, and had people that would be working for him in Nashville. While Google would be happy to ferret out this out of state poacher, how could they really differentiate this man from a brick and mortar locksmith.

  12. @Boruch Fishman
    My experiance is that sites that employ the methods that Google advises against; (dozens on zip codes on each page, dozens of city names per page, etc) are generally the exact folks that should be blocked, no matter the business catagory.

    These are the people who are not local, but want to appear to be. The MO for these types of people posing as locksmiths is to send out someone with little to no training, generally un-licensed, to then dramatically raise the quoted price where possible.

    These folks are breaking several federal and state laws. Fraudulent addresses, and names falls under the Lanham Act. In California anyone who “aids and abets” an un-licensed locksmith is liable for a $10,000 fine. For these and other reasons it seems like it would be a good idea to pass on doing SEO work for criminals.

    Just my opinion…

  13. I saw it not only in the locksmith industry, but also in the plumbing, moving and many more. I do believe that with time the google code will improve, however, for now- it doesnt really manage to handle the abusers. Our business suffered from identity thefts by lots of marketing companies.

  14. At a recent meeting with Google risk management, a SF bay area District Attorney, and local good guy locksmiths; the Google rep was very clear that the root source of the fraudulent listings, map spam and now blog spam was”off shore”.
    He would not say what country but said they it is one country that is the problem in Googles eyes.
    His contention was that a local DA or a states attorney general would have difficulty getting any real results and that the problem would need to be dealt with on the US State department level.

    Since that is not likely to happen, we are left with only the hope that Google and other directories get to work on cleaning up what they list. Automated list population is a cheap but easily manipulated system. The one glimmer of hope is that the directories companies (YP.com, Super pages, Brown Book) have struggled financially in the last few years, and unless they begin to deliver trusted results, they will go away entirely.

    My idea is that all advertisers who are effected by map spam and blog spam put pressure on the sellers of advertisers for directories. Google Adwords, YP.com, Yahoo ad words, and all the ad management companies need to hear that their directories are not usable with all the fraudulent listings. As they hear over and over that they can not sell ads to real companies, they should eventually listen, and they have the power to clean up the problem. I live and hope.

  15. I really don’t think it is as simple as that nor do I think that it is generally true.

    I think Google favors listings that look to it like they are popular (as defined by their algo) and contextually relevant to a query.

  16. I’m with Mike on this.

    There does seem to always be more fraudulent listings in the downtown zip codes, but I believe that is because it is a target rich environment. Many businesses located there etc.
    So it might seem like the Google algo favors the downtown listings, but there are just lots more of them and so that is why they show up.

  17. I’ve worked with several companies locally and have seen a decrease in the abuse of Google Maps, but it still continues to some extent. I think if G. did more of a physical address verification (post card, etc.) it would cut out a lot of the shenanigans.

  18. Hey Mike. Great post. I came across your blog trying to find a way to “flag” some of those sites I see in Google Local here in Australia. The situation is rife. Businesses spamming it out and commenting negatively towards their competitors. Yet Google don’t seem to do anything about it for genuine businesses with “real” shops in a particular suburb. You wonder why they don’t manually take a look at these markets and clean it up. If I was a consumer, I’d be left with a bad taste in my mouth if I called a few different phone numbers, thinking they were different businesses, yet it was answered by the same company. Google say they to want to give the user a real good experience when they search online, yet they fail for people searching local. Don’t 3 in 5 people search locally?

  19. I just recently talked to someone scammed in Clearwater Fl. They thought they were buying locksmith services and locks on the computer. The charge would have been around $200.00. Their credit card was maxed out for $2000.00. THEY NEVER SHOWED UP TO DO THE JOB! THIS IS FRAUD PUNISHABLE BY JAIL TIME IF EVER CAUGHT. After the scam their website was closed and their computer was left with a virus.
    After more studying of these guys I see that they are in to more than just locksmith scamming. There are other jobs that they are into and scamming. Along with locksmith scamming they’re into computer scamming, I have confirmed this. Also the customer comments on their websites and locksmith headings are made up. Due to the amount of locksmith scamming advertising around the world on google, 411, yellow pages and other advertisment locksmith scamming would not pay for this advertising cost alone. I am trying to confirm that they are also into moving, carpet cleaning and major computer scamming and other things worldwide.
    The real way to stop these guys is to cut down their money adverising tree. Google and the phone company both know and say to take or remove anything you have to have a court order. These companies know about the problem but won’t do anything about it. They may be supporting terrism and should be punished by the highest law. No one in the world spends that much money. There is more here than meets the eye. No business license, visas, questionable illegal aliens, millions to billions of dollars spent in advertising, computer scamming, bait and switch pricing, fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, no locksmith license in the appropriate states, a trained call center in Peoria, Illinois. In some states a high tech call tree answering service like AAA has, a block call phone decoding system, changing their thousands of phone numbers, names and bogus addresses frequently, A quote from the ATF “They may be terrorist funded!”
    In due time scammer I am coming to see and investigate you and I will never stop! I haven’t lost a battle or war yet even agianst the worlds largest including you. See you soon.

  20. I’ve traced this locksmith scammer problem for 8 years, all the way back to 2002. I have called & contacted police departments, county police, sheriff offices, campus P.D.’s, city, town and county police, US marshalls, A.T.F, FBI, Homeland Security, Arizona attorney general, ICE, , Lawyers, Attorney Generals, consumer affairs, State Dept, D.E.A, state police, fraud units, credit card companies, private investgators, US customs, Americas Most Wanted, TV stations, radio stations, BBB’s Dept of Justice, Google- many times(can only talk to operator. No one else- they wont put the call through), Information, phone companies, Courts, locksmiths, judges, secret service, newspapers,American Locksmith Association, Dept. of Naturalization and Immigration, I called almost every legislator in one state, Insurance companies since these scammers are probably billing them, Clearwater FL postoffice where some of the locksmith scammer fraud-mail fraud and money laundering took place, I have even talked with other businesses such as moving company scams- where one very big international moving company told me that the scams were coming out of Fl. As you can see, I have put a lot of time and energy in to finding out about and trying to stop the scamming.

    There are things that can be done to stop this problem. Anyone that wants to help out should call, write, e-mail, text, call or show up to talk to legislators and law enforcement etc. Many of these people I have contacted wants notorized letters and face to face visits. Because it will not stop unless you don’t take no for an answer. Or it will take another 911 before anyone will listen. Do something before it is too late! I will not stop until all locksmith scamming is finally over.

    Locksmiths in any state where a locksmith scamming problem exist. My plan is FREE and won’t cost you a thing and will help and finally might make you even more money. Go on every call-even if the customer has called out 2 or 3 locksmiths. If you see the scammers, block their vehicle by pulling right up behind them longways. And immediately call the police. Tell them about possibly having no licenses, business-state license in some states- possible visas or not – no insurance. Try to get police out quickly before scammer takes off. Get phone video or pictures. Get license plate number, state and description of vehicle and scammer. When the police show up get out and talk to them. Get them to run license plate number, drivers license number, social security number, visa number locksmith license if your state has one. Show your license to officer. Get officers name and take a police report. Also talk to customer if they have been scammed. Get involved. Write out an invoice quote stating what your charges would have been if you did get the job. Also ask customer what number they called to get scammer (it may be in cell phone or try redial on phone) and exchange information. Any law enforcement will arrest anyone if they have serious enough warrant. They possibly can get a free ride in a patrol car and possibly a visit in the gray bar motel-jail cell or maybe a nights stay or more.
    If locksmiths start doing this enough in the problem areas it will send a message to the scammers We Will Arrest You If You Have Any Warrants. Then the scammers will be scared to work.

    Think about this, customer calls locksmith scammer the scammer comes out collects service call fee and then scammer ask for additional money for labor. Hundreds to thousands of dollars more they collect before or after the job. Customer wants to call the police. Scammer is bluffing, sometimes even saying “I’ll call police” Do it call the police. The scammer in most cases if the police is called they run. Customer gets information then the police can possibly arrest them if enough complaints are made for running off. The police can go arrest person with license plate number, liscense plate state number, description of person, take phone video if possibe or both. Get names of any witnesses. Try to police and customer to file charges if possible.

    Google Locksmith Scammers, Locksmith terrorist, and Illegal Locksmiths. Courts will not uphold fraud, no business license, no state locksmith license in some areas. I understand no one wants to get involved but you must. This locksmith scammer problem may be terrorist funded! And it all starts with you- the customer and the real locksmith.
    Law enforcement gets raises and promotions based on arrest, speeding tickets ets. They don’t get ahead by doing nothing! This problem is growing rapidly and only getting worse. Law enforcement is willing to possibly help if you push the matter and while locksmith scammer is still in front of you is your best chance!

    These are based on factual information. The locksmith scammers are into bait and swich, locksmithing fraud and scams, online scams-maxing out credit cards and grabbing the money out of the customers account before credit card company can do a charge back to return any money to the customer. The credit card industry pays the bill. Milions to billions of dollars paid out to scammers involved in maxing out credit cards online. Me and you eventually pay the bill in the long run. Viruses left on computers after the scam is another problem. Websites immediately shut down after scams. And you the consumer and business merchant are paying for it.

    I don’t use my name or any related information at all on the computer. Over the phone, when someone calls, because corporate companies put this stuff online, name, address, and other personal information. There is no good to come out of it. If you call me no matter who you are you will get no info. Its my house my prison not yours NO EXCEPTIONS. Protect your idenity and info because no one will do it for you. Not even free public access records in courts. No one should have your information about a speeding ticket, land info etc. I almost never give out my social security number, my drivers license number if I have to. I have a very strict discipline. I don’t sign contracts and I don’t borrow money. Why borrow your own money when you can just be patient and wait till you have it? Is it really worth it? I say NO. I started from nothing, sleeping in my car for 11/2-2 years and you can too. I took a shower at truckstop where it was from free to $3.00 a day. I rented a room by the month in a smaller town with everything paid and included. You can do this too. Keep your Debt to Income (DTI) as low as possible. My area is so poor they didn’t have a homeless shelter for males and still don’t today.

    These locksmith scammers have more power & money than the mob! America just cant seem to whip the problem throughout the US. Its even a locksmith scammer problem in Canada,USA, Baghdad and more countries. I stopped looking after that on Google because its probably in almost every country around the world.

    I have named the locksmith scammers a new name the GLOBAL LOCKSMITH CRIME RING & ONLINE SCAMMERS=G.L.C.R.O.S.
    A customer needs a locksmith ONLINE $200.00 locks and labor turned into $2000.00 while her credit was maxed out. Grabbed money out of act. Credit card co payed the bill. This left person with a virus on computer. The web site was shut down immediately after the money was picked up. She went to the law- they took the information but no one was ever caught. The lady that got scammed didn’t want to get involved. Google would do nothing. Law enforcement could do nothing. ONLINE SCAM TOOK PLACE OUT OF CLEARWATER FL. IT WAS THE LOCKSMITH SCAMMERS=G.L.C.R.O.S.
    These guys are getting rich with these scams. And the credit card companies if you call them are paying the bill. But overall, in the long run, we the consumer are paying the bill. Imagine if that customer had a $150,000 credit card limit. THIS IS HOW THE G.L C. R.O.S. pays for every city, state, and county on google. Thousands of yellow page phone numbers, full page ads and thousands of 411 listings. With thousands of different names, phone numbers and fake addresses to make it look like they are EVERYWHERE! Also I am working on to confirm if the G.L.C.R.O.S. if possible are linked to scams involving moving companies, carpet cleaning, pet sitting, dog walking, screenprinting etc. I am trying to find out ARE THEY LINKED TO TERRORIST, BIN LAIDEN, ALQUIDA, ALQUADA, INSURGEONS, TALIBAN etc.

    The more I study these guys THE WORSE THINGS I FIND OUT AND THE WORSE IT GETS! THEY ARE DEFINETLY UP TO NO GOOD AND THATS BEEN PROVEN! BUT THE REAL QUESTION ARE THEY LINKED TO TERRORISM? I’m going to do my best to find out! I have 96% winning streak in life. GATHERING INTELLIGENCE AND SURVELLIENCE ON THE G.L.C.R.O S. Everyone should do their part and help so we don’t build up the B.L.F F.G.= Bin Laden Flip Flop Gang! I truly think and feel they are connected somehow. But I need more proof.

    I have figured out a way to virtually eliminate credit card scams and unauthorized over charging everywhere. For example I want to buy a $5.00 bluetooth online. I get the companies tracking credit card number and name. The business and I agree on a TOTAL AMOUNT of $10.00 on the door drop off price. I call a 24-7 automated or not credit card company number. And basically I tell them to punch company number, my credit card number in the key pad and they give me an authorization number. I go back to the company and give them the authorization number, $10.00 charge. THATS ALL THE G.L.C.R.O.S. SCAMMERS OR ANYONE CAN RUN THE CREDIT CARD FOR. Someone that I hadn’t done business with before what I did after I had a total was call Bank of America and had the business that I hadnt dealt with before approved for the total. The new business tried to run the credit card for a higher amount than the total we had agreed upon. The business called me back to tell me the credit card wouldnt go through. I asked him what he tried to run it for and he said a higher amount than what we agreed upon. I asked him if we could run it for the amount that we agreed upon and he did and it went through. I LOVED IT! Security at its finest. This will save the credit card companies millions to billions of dollars, less disputes, less charge backs etc. I told this to credit card companies before. I thought about it from all sides I could think of. The reason they don’t want to is because it will cost sales and the problem is not bad enough yet. The impatient customer doesn’t want to take another step in the
    credit card transaction process. It would cost credit card companies money because of less sales. ITS NOT A BAD ENOUGH PROBLEM YET FOR A MULTI BILLION DOLLAR CREDIT CARD INDUSTRY . NOT YET! One day and be assured it will happen when its bad enough and costing too much money.

    I just found out when I call and they tell me at the call center for the G.L.C..R.O.S. phone numbers in different cities and states. Most all the time they say they’re in Poeoria Il. It has a call center. I talked to someone that worked at one of the call centers in Peoria. He told me some weird things that went on at the Afni call center located in Peoria IL. They have about 1000 employees. They have a call center, debt collector, collection agency, new and used car warranty, insurance-customer service.

    When I googled illegal locksmiths, locksmith scammers, and locksmith terrorist I found out that Minnosota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a suit agians AFNI INC, a Illinois dept collection agency. Attempts to collect debts up to 10 years old and some not actually owed by the citizens. Wrong person debt collecting when being provided with this requested information. AFNI sometimes continued its collection efforts. Minnesota consumers sometimes provided private information including social security numbers and police reports of identity theft. You can google AFNI collecion scams and AFNI fraud.

    In my time, I have helped friends out with collection agencies in a very small area in the US. They lied to the customer. The collection agency, not AFNI, said pay the bill it will not show up on your credit report, The fact is it does. It shows up on your report as a collection that has been paid. It lowers your credit score and stays there for quite some time. AFNI has hundreds of VERY BAD COMPLAINTS. COULD AFNI BE TAKING THE G.L.C.R.O.S. CALLS? It seems to me they both have the same goal. FRAUD AND SCAMS. THE G.L.C.R.O.S. & AFNI ARE BOTH BAD ENOUGH COULD THEY BE THE SAME COMPANY OR WORKING TOGETHER?

    For your security, I will not reveal any personal information or my identity.
    ,

  21. wow.. it never occured to me that many lockpicks were so shady.. im sure there are plenty of honest lockpicks out there but this really opened my eyes.. Thanks

  22. Approximately 4-6 weeks ago in June 2010 I called the locksmith scammers. They quoted the typical $29.00 or $39.00 plus labor. They told me labor was $15.00 and up. I asked what the maximum was they responded it depends on what tool the locksmith uses to do the job. They asked for my zipcode and other information. I asked them if they could open up a older basic car in
    Clearwater FL. They said yes. I asked them again “You can open up a car in Clearwater Fl” The said yes agian. Most of the time when I have asked them where they are standing they have answered Peoria Illinois.

    I have been studying these guys bait and switch game for years. We have the stricktest licensing in the US that I know of. A quote from the ATF “They may be terrorist funded” They spend more money then anyone in the US in Yellow Page ads. Even more than doctors, lawyers, construction workers etc. More than anyone period. It looks like their daddy owns the phone company and the computer. I have talked to a lot of people and everyone kept saying they were illegal aliens, no licenses and complaints and this proves it. I hope Americans Most Wanted, 60 minutes and the nightly and local news everywhere will run this story.
    At first I didn’t know how big they were until I studied them and seen the massive amount of money they spend. I get every new Verizon phone book in my state and other phone books throughout the US. I have called the scammers before, blocking my number, and they told me what number I was calling from. When they moved into our state a few years ago they had 60-90 full page color ads. Not including half page, quarter page, dollar bill, business card size ads. 1,2,3, mhs in column ads, color bold listings and with 3500-6000 different phone numbers, all with bogus addresses, different names. They even copy ligitamate locksmith names to bury them in massive advertisment. Very big advertisements, pages full on computer, 1st listings (I’ve seen the Verizon phone books, all of them in the state before they came to town and since they have been here. Other phone books kicked them out.Verizon won’t. And now Idearc prints the yellow pages for Verizon and Idearc has filed bankrupcy. After the scammers have come into these 10 phone books of Verizon and they are still in there. There is not that much business for that amount of money spent). Not including very high tech professional answering telephone tree service. Example when you call their number it instructs you to press 1 for immediate locksmith service press 2 for a previous call or press 3 for customer service. Some of the different numbers you call they answer with “locksmith” or “Hello” In some states they have made up their licensing number in advertisement. Legislating with these laws is running the cost of business up and sales are down in a tough economy.
    In NYC the Verizon phone book 2002 and NJ Holboken 2006 Verizon phone book and Virginia 2008 and in other states. Most states have been legislated. It is not fixing the problem. In these 3 older phone books to name a few the scammers phone numbers still work!
    Consumers- When calling a locksmith just ask them what mall or any landmark around your problem to see if they can answer a simple question.
    Locksmiths-If you are in a scammer area, go out on every call. Once we start calling the law out on all calls and arresting some of them It will be more work for locksmiths. call the police. Once the police is there ask the officer to ask the scammer for licensing if your state requires it, drivers license and run license plate number. SERIOUS WARRANTS WILL GO TO JAIL! And this will cost you nothing.
    I think really there may be something else behind this. A lot bigger! The Florida flight school 911 highjackers were very nice guys and no one knew.

    I have been a locksmith for a very long time. If I started today with all the legistation in my state I wouldn’t be able to afford it. We have caught a locksmith scamming disease throughout America. I can’t even move to another state because most all states are being legislated and I cant keep continuing to pay these very high prices. Please on behalf of all the locksmiths in America and the consumer HELP US DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS IMMEDIATELY IN ALL 50 STATES

  23. Locksmith scammers:

    If any one wants to research the facts they can.

    Facts

    The locksmith Industry has always been built on trust and honesty. There have been very few problems in the past. Yes like anything something can always happen that is sleazy, but this industry has been mostly free from sleeze.

    Over recent years there has been an explosion of complaints across the country. The BBB has logged over 1000 complaints from one or two of these companys and we all know that that is just a small percentage of what is really happening.

    After I first looked into this years ago to find out what was going on with all of the phony address listings appearing in the phone book and on the internet I found out that all of the scammers that I looked into and that was for the most part all of them were infact Israeli.

    I think the problem occurs when someone refers to them as israeli, there is usually people who try and act like it is a race thing and then try and call people racist just because they pointed out the fact that this is an Israeli scam ring. I have never seen anyone cry racist when they are talking about nigerian scams which in my opinion is small potatoes compared to this phony advertising scam.

    I challange anyone to do some research and conclude that this is not an israeli scam.

    I have been sued by David Peer alleged owner of Dependable lock inc. formerly known as priceline or superb solutions. The federal complaint alledged that myself and 3 people from the state of illinois conspired for financial reasons to deny them a license to do business. ( they forgot to look at the reality of it being that they were not real locksmith businesses but self proclaimed locksmiths that seemed to only know how to drill a lock or pry open a car door and then have the audacity to charge wild prices such as 800, 500, 1700, 600 for a service that should generaly be about 90 dollars give or take.)
    The Federal Judge dismissed the counts against me. David Peer and some of his cohorts were arrested recently by Federal authorities and they were charged with various crimes such as Money Laundering, wire Fraud, Mail Fraud, and one of the most important ones Stucturing a business using foriegn illegal workers from Israel.

    I am not a racist and do not have problems with Israelis or Jews.

    David Peer and his attorney filed an amended complaint which names 2 state employees an investigator and Judge who were only doing their job to protect unsuspecting consummers from these scams. The new lawsuit is accusing them of denying their license because they were Israeli. This is an absolute joke seeing the prosecuter who helped take their license away is an Israeli woman.

    I would also like to point out an israeli company called AMDOCS. There is a self proclaimed locksmith business in Colorado called Basad Locksmith. Peleg Foreman seems to have a very nice relationship with them and is even involved with Ruben H Donnelly. Look it up his profile is on the web. This same guy was fined 100,000 dollars for defrauding Colorado citizens. If only the Colorados AGs office knew this is just a slap on the hand and 100,000 is just a small cost of doing business. And the scam continues.

    So just to let everyone know the locksmith industry is not sleezy. Most locksmiths are of good moral and ethical character.

    It is the Israeli scam that is well organized that has introduced sleeze into this industry. This has actually become a world wide scam and they are operating across the borders also.

    Call one of these scammers and listen to all the phones ringing in the back round. These scams are Huge and not penny ante.

    This scam is not only affecting locksmiths and the same players are also involved with florists, tow trucks, carpet cleaning, duct cleaning, movers and who knows what else.

    These scams I believe are being perpetraited by professionals that are in the advertising business. These scammers are very cunning and educated and will try and confuse everything with smoke and mirrors.

    The fact that these self proclaimed locksmiths are Israeli is irrelavant, this is just a common denominator that points to this phony advertising conspiracy which is not 1000s of different locksmith companys as the scammers would have you believe but rather an inticate network of corporations that are centraly run by the same people. Then you have the copy cats that are former employees trying to run the same scam.

  24. Are each of those little dots supposed locksmiths?! Wow! No wonder so many people have bad experiences with locksmiths; seems like everyone who can open a door is calling themselves one.

  25. Hi, I am an owner operator of nexus 24 hour locksmiths Sydney. The map spam problem here is fortunately not as bad as the examples above, however I think that google has introduced the maps to make more money from pay per click. How? Well those who invested in SEO to appear up top for competitive searches have been shifted below 7 or so listings by businesses that have put no SEO work into their sites. By placing these map results above SEO results it has hugely negated the clicks generated by organic listings. Now more Sydney locksmiths, and I am sure NYC locksmiths have no choice but to compete in adwords for positioning above map results, which has sent prices for ppc skyrocketing, which is exactly what google wanted. Why did they introduce the maps?!?! Beneficial for google? Yes! And arguably beneficial for the consumer if map listings are genuine and accurate. A huge disadvantage to those who invested alot of money in SEO. SEO is virtually dead now. Any thoughts anyone!??

  26. You are spot on google places is a joke. It is full of locksmith call centres and fake addresses it makes it nearly impossible for us normal locksmiths to get to the first page of google anymore as 8 slots are taken up by the nationall locksmith company’s. Google should be doing mire to stop this and more frustratingly customers don’t have a clue what’s going on they believe they are calling a normal locksmith and when they get a huge bill it gives us all a bad name.

    Excellent blog

  27. Matt H (comment 80 above) is one of the main culprits for this particular type of spamming here in Australia. We’ve been following his activities closely. He works for Third Man Online – a lead generation company based in Melbourne. His sites have just sprung up out of nowhere over the last year or so to dominate search results and combined with their google maps spam they’re becoming a big problem for the locksmith industry here.

  28. we have exactly the same issue over this side of the pond, if you search for a locksmith in any town in the UK it looks as though their is virtually a locksmith on every street corner, we all know this is not so, it would seem that Yell, goole ect are struggling to combat this blantant abuse of their systems and unfortunatly we are seeing genuine local locksmiths suffering and some even giving up on the trade

  29. Now almost 4 years later and the scammer problem is still an issue in America. They still do some spamming on Google Maps. And so do a few others who feel dismayed to lose the area of service they used to cover when phone books were more popular.

    But, at least in my area, the scammers are pretty well cleaned-up on Maps.

    Are the Israeli scammers mostly gone then? If not then where did they go? Just look in the Adwords space… See the “$15 Locksmith Svc” and “$15 Service Fee” and “15 Minute Response” ads? That’s them. Those are the same folks that brought you many thousands of variations on “A A A 000 New York Emergency Locksmith” in the phone books and on Google. They cleaned up their game, and figured out adwords.

    They were never just spammers though. They were scammers. That is, liars about their prices. And they still are, it’s still a bait-and-switch con. They say “$15 service fee” and maybe add something like “and $20 or more in labor costs”. The key words there being “or more” because it means the sky is the limit.

    But they get the most customers by putting those little numbers out there (the bait), and then reveal the full labor costs later when it’s much tougher for the customer to turn them away or refuse to pay (the switch).

    It’s against Google Adwords guidelines. They say very plainly not to publish deceptive pricing. And that’s what publishing a partial price is.

  30. The way I see it the problem is more complex then it look at first glance.
    Only a handful of states requires valid locksmith license?!
    The law must be changed to protect the locksmith industry from criminals and bunglers!
    1 Must have license in all states to perform any locksmith service.
    2 Mandatory use of only commercial vehicle with permanent business sign, must include physical address, phone number & license numbers. Severe penalties for those braking the law, probations and possible jail time for repeat offenders.
    3 Any form of advertisement including but not limited to on line advertisement must include physical address, phone number, license MANDATED BY LAW. Any search engines and or directories that are not complying with current regulations of locksmith advertisements, must be fined including revoking their advertisement license.
    4 All online directories and search engines must be regulated accordingly to protect the locksmith industry and the consumers.
    5 Anybody that is performing locksmith service without license, and or insurance, and or properly registered commercial vehicle will suffer the consequences of confiscation of their vehicles and anything that was intended to use to commit felony and wire fraud.

  31. I worked for an Israeli locksmith scam company while I lived in Israel. They have a call center in Tel Aviv and “technicians” (ripoff artists) all across the USA. This locksmith scam is 100% Israeli. If all the illegal Israeli workers living in the US were to be deported, this problem would disappear overnight.

    I know it’s hard for you Americans to understand this, with you egalitarian mentality, but differences between nationalities and cultures and races DO EXIST. In Israel, if you are weak, you get ripped off. Suckers get ripped off, that’s just what they do. And America is THE LAND OF FAT RICH SUCKERS. Further, Israelis have an “us against the world” mentality, not to mention the age-old Jewish bitterness towards gentiles for all the wrongs that gentiles have caused the Jews. To quote a famous American rabbi Meir Kahane: “One of the great problems with Americans is that – being a decent people – they assume that everyone else is equally decent.”

    There are a number of American technicians working for these Israeli Locksmith Ripoff companies, but I noticed that they don’t rip off the consumers nearly as bad as the Israeli con-men. For example an American ripoff locksmith may charge $75 to unlock a car door, while an illegal Israeli ripoff locksmith will try to charge $190. Many Americans will pay them whatever they ask for, there have been cases of Americans paying over $1,500 to unlock the door to a house or apartment (standard fee – $40 – $90).

    When a hapless American is being extorted for a huge amount and doesn’t want to pay, the Israeli con-man will threaten to call the police on them, take pictures of their license plates, threaten that this will go on their credit score and they will lose their jobs, etc.. They never give a receipt for their work, there is no way of getting any of your money back from them. They even have the nerve to charge $40-$60 ‘cancellation fee’ if you refuse to be ripped off! Sometimes if a stupid American doesn’t have enough money on them to pay for the ripoff service, the Israeli will take some item of value as collateral, like a watch or an iphone, or jewlery, which he can get back when he gathers enough money to pay off the extortionate fee.

    Of course, if you have SACK, you will not get ripped off by these Hebrew shysters. Say for example they did some kind of job for you and now want a crazy amount of money. You refuse to pay anything b/c you are simply offended they have the nerve to rip you off, and because you ordered a professional locksmith not some unlicensed crook posing as a locksmith. The Israeli will not do anything other than bluff about calling the police and all that crap. He is already in the country illegally and makes a living ripping people off. The last thing he needs is for the police to uncover his operation… if they see who he is and what he does they will immediately throw him in jail or deport him.

    So, you softie American suckers: for God’s sake, don’t shop around for the cheapest deal and call the first number you see on Google! By the way, these Israeli locksmith ripoff companies (and Israeli ripoff carpet cleaners, tow-truck service, and movers) are also advertising companies specializing in something called Web Server Optimization. This is the process of making a given website appear high up on an internet search. The reason that the Israeli Locksmith Ripoff Company (AKA 24/7 Locksmith, LocsmithPhoenixUSA, LocalLOcksmith24/7, etc…) comes up first in Google is because the ripoff company has a computer wiz doing Web Server Optimization for them.

    ALWAYS got to the BBB (Better Business Beareau) for a list of reputable local service providers. Also utilize Angie’s List (pay the membership fee) and contact the ones with the best ratings and reviews.

  32. Also, you may be wondering why the person answering the phone when you call an Israeli Locksmith Ripoff Service sounds American without any accent. This is because there are many American Jews who have moved to Israel and found work in a call center for one of these Ripoff Services. There may also be call centers located in America, but you can be certain that the “technician” that these companies send you will be an Israeli (living and working in America on a tourist Visa) well-trained in how to rip-off Americans.

  33. The scammers are making a lot of money ripping off a lot of people by making lots of fake companies and phone numbers in their advertising. It makes them lots of money, but it also exposes their flanks: one company pays every time somebody clicks on one of thousands of ads. If you really want to get rid of the scammers, help me do this daily:
    1. Go to a wireless hotspot with your smartphone
    2. Clean your phone browser’s history/cache
    3. Search google for “locksmith” and click each ad announcing $15 service call on the front page twice. Any more and google will flag your ip address and won’t charge the Israelis. Using a phone makes it cost more for them.
    4. Go to locksmithdirectory.com and call all of the fakes for your area. They pay locksmithdirectory.com anywhere from $12-20 each call. Ask for a rekey estimate. Once you mention keys or locks they get charged. Then say “thanks, bye”.
    If you do these things you will cost the scammers over $100 every day, with only five minutes of work! If over ten of us did this, it might be enough to shut them down.
    Only use these methods on fake locksmiths. Some locksmiths with strange accents are legitimate, including Israelis. Not very many, but a few.
    As for accusations of racism, pointing out that a majority of the scammers are Israeli is not racist. In fact, lots of them are from other places in the Levant and are also Jewish. This is also not racist to point out. Making a joke about Jews ripping people off might be racist. But that hasn’t happened yet.

  34. Google adwords sponsored ads are responsible for online Nationwide Locksmith & Emergency Services Scams! This cannot be posible without the help of Google Staff. See Google 500M settlement with illegal drug suit by The Government 2008 operation. Now different market. Google ruins small business in America allowing overseas call centers as well local run this ads! Don’t be fooled! Read the article.

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