LONGMONT, Colo. — A Longmont locksmith has spent three decades building his reputation. Now, he is watching it be destroyed by a website using his company's name and then reportedly overcharging customers.
According to Alan Embree, the key to a successful locksmith business is not just the tools, it's the trust.
"I've lived in this neighborhood for almost 70 years, you think I'm going to get away with going around sticking it to everybody I see and ripping people off?" Embree asked. "How long do you think that's going to go?"
For more than 35 years, Embree has been picking locks and making keys in Longmont -- old school. His company, Master Locksmith and Safe, does not have a website, but upon googling that name, a website comes up with the same name as Embree's business. On the website, it reads, "Master Locksmith & Safe is Your complete locksmith in Longmont, CO and all of Colorado."
"I think they're overseas," said Embree. "And I think they're hiring kids, or people probably through a Craigslist ad or something. But I am the one getting the angry calls and the negative reviews."
Allana Sear posted one of the negative reviews, after she thought she had hired Master Locksmith & Safe last year to open her safe.
A service that is normally $50, according to Embree, cost Sear $160.
"I was shocked, absolutely shocked," said Sear, who said she only later learned that the company that responded was not Master Locksmith & Safe. "What I wish is for this guy to maybe have something to help him because it's his reputation that has been destroyed."
Embree said he has called everyone from the Colorado Attorney G eneral's office to the BBB to try to get help, but the website is still up, so he reached out to Contact Denver7.
When we called the number listed on the fraudulent Master Locksmith & Key website, a representative answered, "24-Hour Locksmith Service?"
When asked directly, she admitted they were not Master Locksmith & Safe, stating, "Okay, ma'am. It's a mistake on the website. We're gonna have that fixed."
A spokeswoman with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation said in an email that the Identity Theft and Fraud unit is "actively investigating" this case, even contacting the search engine host (Google) and the website domain host suggesting a correction, "but there has yet to be a response."
The CBI says they have seen a number of scammers targeting legitimate businesses to redirect customers to their sites, pointing us to a Google blog stating that 3 million fake businesses were taken down in 2019.
Meanwhile, Embree says his business has slowed significantly.
"This whole thing has been a big scam. And they're cheating people," said Embree. "Everybody's got to make a living. You don't have to go out and just ruin people's lives and rip them off to do it."
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