Some con men have turned the locksmith business into a get rich quick scam at your expense. We've likely all been there. You've locked yourself out of your house, now you need a locksmith.

"Over the phone they would be quoted a price of around $50 then after the locksmith showed up they would get a story about how they had a unique lock or more difficult," said U.S. Postal Inspector Dan Taylor. Once the victims were let back in, they would be told the price would be several hundred dollars.

This price gauging scam is not uncommon. Fortunately, we haven't heard of any cases here in Nebraska. In this case, the suspects created several bogus companies in the same city and advertised in the Yellow Pages.

"For instance if there were 30 locksmiths in one area, they would make sure to have 15 mentioned in those yellow pages," said Taylor. "This insured the odds that one of the suspects companies would be contacted." Investigators started following up on hundreds of complaints in dozens of different cities. "Nationwide there were thousands of victims and by following the money," said Taylor. "We found the scammers made millions and millions of dollars."

"It's always important to try to get an estimate or a quote on paper before the service is actually completed," said LPD Officer Shane Winterbauer. "Once that service is completed, then you're obligated to pay the price that they give you."

Another important piece of advice-- report the crime, even if it doesn't feel like you lost a lot of money.Whenever you're in a desperate situation, beware of businesses taking advantage of you. Even if you don't get an estimate in writing, talk price before the work begins.

By Chad Silber
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