KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Robert Flaws was told the cost of unlocking his car would be about $72. So then why was his bill $871, more than 10 times the amount he was quoted?
When the locksmith wouldn’t give him an answer, Flaws called FOX4 Problem Solvers for help. He was one of several people who contacted FOX4 — all claiming they were victims of unscrupulous locksmiths.
“My keys were on the seat,” said Flaws, recalling the evening he locked himself out of his car and called his brother Mike for help.
It was Mike Flaws who called multiple locksmiths and finally found one who he said promised to open the locked door for about $72.
Mike thought his brother’s problem was solved until he saw the $871.72 bill. Mike immediately called the locksmith.
“The guy’s like, ‘I don’t know what you are talking about,’ and hung up on me,” he said.
Just like that the Flaws became the latest victims of an increasingly common locksmith scam in the Kansas City metro.
Hannah Paxton said she also fell victim. She said a locksmith promised to unlock her car for $125. But as soon as he finished the job and drove away, she received a notification on her phone that her debit card had been charged not $125, but $730.
Hannah and the Flaws brothers tried to dispute the charges on their debit cards, but their banks said there was nothing they could do because the locksmiths had produced signed receipts showing they agreed to the charge.
But Hannah and the Flaws said the only thing they signed was a blank screen that the locksmiths said was needed to prove they had responded to the call.
“It was just a signature line,” Hannah said. “He hadn’t written anything on it.”
The company Hannah used is called Locksmiths Around The Clock. The Flaws used On Time Locksmith Pros. Although they have different names, they both appear to be connected.
FOX4 Problem Solvers called the phone number listed at On Time Locksmith Pros’ website. The woman who answered the phone sounded like she was working at a call center. She hung up when we identified ourselves and told her we were investigating complaints about their customers being overcharged.
We then paid a visit to the address listed on one of the locksmiths’ websites. It’s on N. Jefferson Street in Kansas City. The woman who answered the door was shocked when we told her the address was being used by a locksmith company.
Phone numbers that the locksmiths provided to both Hannah and the Flaws had 816 area codes. Although they were different numbers, the name Kirk Rash pops up on the screen when either one of the numbers is dialed.
There’s only one Kirk Rash that Problems Solver could find in all of the Kansas City metro — so we paid a visit. Again, we met someone who had no connection to a locksmith company or the phone numbers we had been dialing. Another dead end.
Determined to get to the bottom of this problem, FOX4 Problem Solvers asked both Hannah and the Flaws to find out from their banks where the money taken from their debit cards was sent.
Both were given the same name: Yaacov Mashiach. The only person we could find in the entire country with that name lives in Chicago.
A reporter at our Chicago sister station paid a visit to Mashiach’s home. He even left a business card. But weeks later, no one ever contacted him.
We tried calling Mashiach three times. A few days after leaving our third message, we heard from a man who identified himself as Mashiach’s attorney. He told us that Mashiach had no connection to a locksmith company and, instead, makes a living by operating nursing homes.
FOX4 Problem Solvers also contacted the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. The AG’s Office pointed out the locksmith complaints were strikingly similar to another locksmith scam that once thrived in Missouri more than a decade ago. It was operated by Israelis living in the United States. Problem Solvers was the first to expose that scam, as well.
Missouri’s attorney general would like to hear from people who feel they also may have been a victim of a locksmith scam. You can contact the Problem Solvers team here.
We’ll let you know what happens.
📲 Download the FOX4 News app to stay updated on the go.
📧 Sign up for FOX4 email alerts to have breaking news sent to your inbox.
💻 Find today’s top stories on fox4kc.com for Kansas City and all of Kansas and Missouri.