The New York locksmith company that created illusory phone listings for phantom businesses in southeastern Wisconsin has been ordered to stay out of the state and to pay $25,000.
The Department of Justice got the default judgment last week against Locksmiths Inc., and owner Gabriel Munteoreanu, of Brooklyn, N.Y., in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.
The state filed a civil lawsuit against Locksmiths Inc. last November, accusing the company of establishing numerous telephone numbers, bogus business names and phony addresses to deceive consumers in need of locksmith services. The addresses were to fool consumers into believing they were contacting a local business, but all calls went to the company’s out-of-state call center, which dispatched a contract locksmith. Such a business template using multiple identities, in this instance, violates the state’s deceptive advertising laws, the complaint charged.
The practice, especially as set in place by a web of locksmiths, has come to the attention of consumer fraud investigators across the country.
In Wisconsin, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has received a handful of complaints from lockout victims angry about overcharging and deceptive marketing, and companies distressed at what they feel is unfair competition.