The locksmith scam continues to be an issue for many consumers and search engines may be the reason behind it all.
Ashley Thomas and her mother Melissa are getting the word out about the locksmith that scammed her near Olympia. She found Lacey Locksmith using a search engine.
“It looked really nice on the website,” said Ashley.
When she called, Ashely was initially given a $55 quote. The locksmith then arrived, but after popping the lock, she says he requested a $220 fee.
“I was talking through the window and I said, ‘I don’t have money’. And he was like banging on my door saying, ‘Get out here! Give me the money right now!’ It was really scary. A real business wouldn’t be threatening a 19 year old girl at 11 o’clock at night,” said Ashley.
The problem is, it’s tough to find a locksmith in an emergency.
“People trust what the search engines say. Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp and you find something there you think of course it’s going to be right,” said Brian Seely, a computer security expert.
Seely is an ethical hacker and the author of “Cyber Fraud: The Web of Lies”. He’s been tracking these internet based locksmith companies for years. After speaking with him, I realized anybody can become a locksmith on the internet.
So I decided to test this theory. I created a locksmith company called, 100% not a locksmith and sent a request to Bing to get listed. A few weeks later our fake business showed up on the web.
In the meantime, we tried to find Lacey Locksmith and the closest address listed was not the address of the locksmith, but rather a completely innocent family.
Aaron Keating, a locksmith and a member of the Northwest Locksmith Association says it’s just too easy for these businesses to get up and running.
Keating says to research and find a locksmith before you’re in trouble–because the results of your search could be costly.
“The saddest thing about it is these people are taking advantage of the situation where they have all of the control. You’re locked out what are you going to do? What are your choices? You just don’t know your choices,” said Keating.
In a statement, Bing had the following to say,
“Bing does not have any comment regarding mapping programs or specific issues related to locksmith companies.”
If your ever in need of a locksmith, refer to the Northwest Locksmith Association.