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Mt. Pleasant locksmith says possible scam is hurting business, costing customers

WCIV

Cutting keys and cleaning them is part of the job for Larry Spears. He owns East Cooper Lock and Safe on Old Georgetown Road in Mt. Pleasant. But he's concerned for those who use a smart phone to search for him when they're in a jam.

"I hate to say yeah don't look for me on a mobile phone. But that's where you find me if you're locked out. And at that time, you're desperate," Spears said.

"They're paying Google to promote our name with their phone number," explained James Steffen, general manager of East Cooper Lock and Safe.

He showed how someone is using the business's name in a search engine, and links it to a different phone number.

"Our actual legitimate information is actually further down on the Google search," Steffen said.

He said unsuspecting customers are calling someone claiming to be a locksmith. And they're paying the price for a phony service.

"This is actually a receipt from an actual customer that called me saying why did we go out and charge them $391," he said while holding a printed copy of a screenshot from a cellphone.

Mount Pleasant Police say they're unaware of the confusion, but are promising to investigate. Until its corrected, James Steffen reminds people to be careful when searching for a locksmith.

"If you call somebody and say hey look I'm locked out of my car and they call you back from a different, out of area phone number and they don't speak English or they're very hard to understand, call somebody else," he said.

For Larry Spears, he wants to unlock the mystery of who's stealing a business he built from scratch.

"I've been here since '81. It’s my reputation that's starting to get hurt. Plus, my business. It's not good for locksmiths. Makes us look like we're thieves. I'm a lot of things,” he joked. “I'm not an angel. But I ain't no thief."

Other locksmith businesses are also affected.

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