NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Metro Police have issued a warning about a scam in which a woman and a locksmith have lost hundreds of dollars.
Police don't have an explanation, but they're investigating the incident. Captain David Imhof with the police department's fraud unit said it appears the scam artists intercepted a woman's phone calls to a reputable Nashville locksmith.
The crooks used the name of West End Lock Company. There's a company by that name in the West End area. It's been there for 32 years.
Owner Richard Kass said he has a good reputation, but last week the image he's worked so hard to establish was nearly tarnished by someone who apparently intercepted phone calls intended for his company.
"It could happen to any business, anybody, which I think is really an amazing thing," Kass said.
The scam came to light when a homeowner in Oak Hill had work done on her door locks. Lori Good said she needed some work done on some locks at her home in Oak Hill.
"During business hours they answered the phone, ‘West End Lock and Key'. I made the appointment, and it went all down hill from there," said Good.
She said men came to her home and did the work. She said they even confirmed the appointment when they called and said they'd be a little late.
Kass confirmed Good called the right phone number, and Good said it was the same number she called to make the original appointment.
A few days later a door knob fell off, and she called the company back after hours. No one answered.
She knew something wasn't right, because West End Lock Company has 24 hour service. She called the next business day and talked to Kass.
"We had no record of her call coming in. No paperwork. Nothing in the system. So, I called her back and I said 'I really don't know how to say this, but we didn't do the work in your home,'" said Kass.
Good told us the men charged her $488 for work that should have cost $220.
"Somehow, we don't know how this happened yet, but the phone number was compromised," said Captain Imhof.
Metro Police are not sure how it could have happened. We asked NewsChannel 5's IT expert Gibson Prichard.
"There's a remote chance that somebody could be wire tapping, that they could actually be connected some where near your office or near the locksmith in question," Prichard said.
He said a call forwarding scam is more likely.
"It's not common to have someone sort of take over your phone line by forwarding but it's conceivable," said Prichard.
Prichard said there's also a remote possibility that somebody intercepted a cell phone, but in this case it's not very likely.
"That's a heck of a scam. Now, how many people they did this to, how many calls they could have intercepted? I have no idea," said Kass.
Good admits she made a mistake. She didn't ask the men who did the work for identification. Afterward, she was worried they could get inside her home.
West End Lock Company went to her home and re-keyed all of her locks for free. Kass said it was the right thing to do.
In the State of Tennessee, a locksmith not carrying a license can face jail time and a $500 fine. There's also jail time and a $3,000 fine for impersonating a licensed professional.
In this case, because a phone is involved, they could also face federal charges.
Good paid the men with a credit card, so Metro Police are tracking the transaction to see if they can find the scam artists.