Hank Investigates: Shadow Companies

CHELMSFORD, MA (WHDH) - Now at story you’ll see on just one station: Hank uncovers a shocking, new kind of identity theft, and it could cost you big bucks and major headaches.  Before you pick up the phone or search the internet, Hank warns, you’ve got to know about shadow companies.

Don’t make a joke about Don Shore’s garage door business having its ups… and downs…

Because what’s happening right now to the Chelmsford business he’s owned with his wife Theresa for 20 years

Don Shore, Chelmsford Garage Door:  “It makes me mad.”

Is not one bit funny.

Theresa Shore, Chelmsford Garage Door: “We’ve had to lay employees off because the business has fallen.”

Police call it business identity theft.

Lt. John A. Roark, Chelmsford Police:  “I think we only see the tip of the iceberg on it.”

Here’s how the door deception works:  When a spring on Mary’s garage door broke, she googled what she thought was the company that originally installed it: Chelmsford Garage Door, and said: Come fix this! Soon after a guy pulled up in an unmarked truck, charged her more than $400, and didn’t even fix the door.

Hank: “Did it work when he left?”

Mary: “No, not really no, it came crashing down.”

So this time, Mary got out her original file, found the real phone number, and complained. But Don and Theresa told her, “We never sent anyone to your house!”

Mary:I don’t like being taken.”

The Shores showed me if you internet search specifically for Chelmsford Garage Door, all kinds of similar listings show up. Experts call them “shadow companies.”

And when unsuspecting  customers call, these “shadow companies” pretend to be the real one!

Theresa: “I’ve called and asked to speak to Theresa and they will say ‘oh she’s not in the office today’.”

After the Shores got dozens of complaints for shoddy work and inflated costs, they called the police.  Detectives lured a guy from the shadow company to a sting location. When the guy fled, they issued a warrant for his arrest. Now he’s disappeared.

Lt. Roark: “I find it infuriating it’s just another way of stealing.”

Don and Theresa are terrified this continued internet deception will cost them their beloved family business, and warn their customers to triple check who they’re calling.

Theresa: “It just makes us so upset, we haven’t slept in two years!”

And police investigators told me they know fake garage door bad guys—are also targeting other communities..

Lt. Roark: “I’ve called and asked if they’re Billerica garage door they tell me they’re Billerica garage door, I’ve called and asked if they’re Tewksbury garage door and they’ve told me they’re Tewksbury garage door, they’ll basically tell you whatever you want to hear.”

Since shadow companies rely on confusing you—don’t let them do it. Don’t be pressured, don’t be rushed, get multiple estimates, and police say–call them if you’re suspicious.

This is a link to the real Chelmsford Garage Door website and number:  http://www.chelmsfordgaragedoor.com/

If you’ve been the victim of a shadow company let us know, email: tellhank@whdh.com

(Copyright (c) 2016 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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