Tampa, Florida - More than two and a half years after 10 News helped federal law enforcement bust a locksmith chain that was allegedly preying on consumers, the mastermind of the operation is now considered a fugitive.
David Peer, 34, is awaiting trial on federal fraud charges in Missouri, but prosecutors have identified unapproved international flights he has taken, and identified him as a fugitive from the law.
The charges against Peer indicate he taught locksmith employees all across the country how to overcharge and deceive customers. 10 News' 2009 undercover sting confirmed the upselling and deception.
But while Peer's company was shut down, many of the phony phone listings remain listed online. Dozens start with an 813-421-xxxx, 727-803-xxxx, or 727-322-xxxx and use fake addresses. An operator at one of the numbers confirmed to 10 News that the addresses were made up.
While Yellowbook made a promise to 10 News in 2010 to clean up its listings, it now says that promise only pertained to its print publication.
Despite interest from many in the locksmith industry to regulate the business so background checks and training would provide more safety to consumers, locksmith bills have failed to gain any traction in Tallahassee for a number of years.
The Associated Locksmiths of America provides a short list of member locksmiths at www.findalocksmith.com. Other locksmiths tell us to try websites like www.angieslist.com or www.BBB.org, or just ask people you know for suggestions for trusted locksmiths. Because you don't want to sort through dozens of fake listings when you really have an emergency.
Connect with 10 News Investigator Noah Pransky on Facebook at www.facebook.com/noahpransky or Twitter at www.twitter.com/noahpransky. Send your story tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.