EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
RICHARD G. CALLAHAN
United States Attorney
February 18, 2011
For Immediate Release
OWNERS OF FLORIDA LOCKSMITH SERVICE INDICTED IN SCAM TO OVERCHARGE FOR LOCKSMITH SERVICES
St. Louis, MO: The United States Attorney’s Office announced today that the owners of a Florida based locksmith service were charged in a superseding indictment on multiple federal charges involving a scam to overcharge customers for locksmith services, as well as employing and
harboring illegal aliens.
According to the superseding indictment, Dependable Locks, Inc., headquartered in Clearwater, FL, managed a national network of locksmith technicians, operating from major population centers across the United States, including St. Louis. It also maintained a full-time staff of telephone
operators and dispatchers, who were on duty 24 hours per day in Clearwater. The dispatchers received phone calls electronically forwarded from hundreds to thousands of telephone numbers listed nationwide for emergency locksmith services, all of which forwarded consumer calls to the
call center in Florida. The dispatchers received the calls and the business dispatched locksmith technicians from the area of the call to respond. Many of the locksmith technicians working for Dependable Locks were aliens who were unlawfully present in the United States and were not authorized to work as locksmith technicians.
The indictment alleges that the locksmith company 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 locksmith technicians allegedly were allowed to split the profits of the fraudulently procured locksmith services with the company and were required to remit the company's share of the proceeds by regularly purchasing and shipping cash, checks and money orders to the Dependable
Locks location in Clearwater, FL.
"After more than a year of following numerous leads with ICE and the Missouri Attorney General's Office, we are pleased to see this case continue to progress," said Postal Inspector J.R. Ball of the St. Louis Field Office. He added, "The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is vigilant in investigating
allegations where the mail or postal products are used to conceal or further a crime."
DAVID PEER, Clearwater, FL; and ADAM OLIVKOVICH, address unknown, were indicted by a federal grand jury on one felony count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, five felony counts of mail fraud, one felony count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for private financial gain and one felony count of engaging in a pattern of hiring unauthorized aliens. MOSHE AHARONI, Clearwater, FL, was indicted on one felony count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one felony count of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for private financial gain.
Conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a fine up to $250,000. Mail fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $250,000. Conspiracy to harbor unlawful aliens for private financial gain carries a maximum
penalty of 10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $250,000. Engaging in a pattern of hiring unauthorized aliens carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and/or a fine of $3,000 per alien. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines,
which provide recommended sentencing ranges.
This case was investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant United States Attorneys John Sauer and John Ware are
handling the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.