They are called ghost locksmiths because they operate with a fraudulent scheme that makes it difficult to locate their whereabouts after encountering their victim, to avoid giving warranties for badly done jobs and hearing complaints on their rip off prices.
When confronted with warranty claims, they vanish without leaving the slightest trace, not even appearing at spirit séances.
Their brick-and-mortar business listings in Google are really addresses of other stores, people, even open spaces.
The telephone numbers you call are really call centers located at different locations in the United States.
They even have the nerve to imitate commercial names of legitimate professional locksmiths.
Technical experience is almost null, they are out to destroy and replace your locks. They destroy what needs not to be destroyed, open whats already opened, etc.
They falsely say that the lock can't be picked open because it's high security, that's jammed, that a part became loose or disconnected, etc.
Telling apart high security keys from common ones
SOME COMMENTS ON PICKING
To be honest, I must say to the best of my knowledge, that all locks CAN'T be opened by picking, at least practically.
This is one thing that is directly related to the brand and/or model of the lock in question in addition to the technical skills of the person who is doing the picking. When dealing with professional locksmiths, entry by destructive means will be the very last option.
When dealing with ghost locksmiths, entry by destructive means will be the first and only option.
How can I identify them?
By the ridiculous prices on their advertising. These prices are as bizarre as all things in ALICE IN WONDERLAND. This is fresh bait to lure you directly into their trap, the key word here is STARTING AT.
They don't do any positive customer identification.
They don't accept debit or credit cards, only CASH.
In their advertising they give the impression of having a nearby location, but not being really there, their average response time is between a half hour to two hours.
How can I avoid becoming a victim?
BEFORE EMERGENCY HAPPENS
Be proactive, write beforehand the information of a legitimate professional locksmith you know, dont wait to be locked out of your home or car, your thinking will be impaired when this happens and you will be more vulnerable to big time scamming and rip-off.
BEFORE CALLING FOR SERVICE
Try to strike a deal for a fixed price, if the person who answers the phone insists that this is impossible, hang up immediately and call another locksmith.
BEFORE AUTHORIZING WORK
Take a good look at the service vehicle. Does it have professional looking permanent advertising or does it have cheap looking magnetic removable signs? The latter could be a possible big red flag.
Ask to see locksmith association membership ID cards, training credentials and/or state locksmith license if applicable.
Inquire on form of payment. If the person says CASH ONLY, chances are it's a ghost locksmith.
Other recommended videos
Excellent undercover exposé from a news channel
Professional locksmith confronts a young scammer
Message from the Society of Professional Locksmiths
Had heard something about this but never paid close attention for not having the vaguest idea of the magnitude of this elaborate fraud scheme.
It's sad to see unsuspecting people in emergency situations scammed and ripped-off by impostors without mentioning the countless legitimate professional locksmiths that have seen their reputations and businesses tarnished.
I AM SORRY FOR NOT HAVING COMMENTED ON THIS BEFORE