Monday, February 21, 2011
Second Round of Indictments for Locksmith Company Accused of Defrauding Missourians
By Chad Garrison
on Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 3:03 PM
This marks the second time the U.S. Attorney's Office has indicted the company
here in Missouri. In 2009, prosecutors charged two Florida business men and Eliyahu Barhanun of Creve Coeur with overcharging clients, employing illegal immigrants from Israel and sending proceeds from their ill-gotten gains to a real-estate company in that country.
Court records show that the U.S. dropped its case against Barhanum last February but his alleged partners in the scheme -- David Peer, 31, Moshe Aharoni, 30, both of Clearwater, Florida -- remain under investigation. Those two men and a third individual of unknown origins -- Adam Olivkovich -- were charged last week with felony mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for private financial gain.
The indictment alleges that Dependable Locks engaged in deceptive marketing by purchasing directory listings and advertisements in cities across the United States that identified the business to the public as a set of local locksmith companies. The company's listings used multiple business names, local phone numbers, and fake local addresses that had no affiliation with the company. Phone calls to the listed phone numbers were automatically routed to the company's call center in Clearwater, Florida.
In addition, telephone operators for Dependable Locks were instructed by managers to mislead customers to believe that they would be charged around $54 for a car lockout, while the responding technician was instructed by managers to charge up to $179 for a lockout. Technicians used techniques such as accusing the consumer who objected to the overcharge of "theft of services," threatening to call the police, withholding the customer's keys or driver's license to compel payment, or following the customer to an ATM machine to ensure payment.
The U.S. Attorney's Office of Eastern Missouri last week handed down another round of indictments last week against Dependable Locks, a Florida-based locksmith accused of extorting customers in Missouri.