An Israeli man who impersonated a San Bruno locksmith and bilked an 86-year-old homeowner, and possibly several others, for repairs admitted to charges of identity theft Tuesday in San Mateo County Superior Court.
Moshe Mizrachi, 29, now faces up to six months in county jail for passing himself off as an employee of A-1 San Bruno Locksmith, a company police later learned had been dissolved in 2006 after the owner died, according to prosecutors.
San Bruno police set up a sting operation after the 86-year-old woman, who locked herself out of her home and called A-1 San Bruno Locksmith, reported she had been charged $1,500 by Mizrachi and another, as-yet-unidentified man, to change a single lock.
According to San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, the woman is on a fixed income and told the men she didn't have enough money to pay.
“She said, 'I don't have that money here,' and they convinced her to go the bank,” Wagstaffe said.
Minus $1,500 for the new lock on her door, the woman notified police, who learned from the widow of the company's actual owner that he had died in
2006 and the business had shut down. Police then called the company's phone number asking for a locksmith, and when Mizrachi showed up, he was arrested.
According to Wagstaffe, there were multiple reports to a local television station from other residents complaining about being overcharged by the same locksmith company.
As to how Mizrachi stole the locksmith's identity, prosecutors are still baffled.
Wagstaffe said there was no evidence Mizrachi knew the former owner, adding that he has heard of cases where con artists comb the obituary pages of newspapers in order to assume the identities of deceased people.
Mizrachi is in the United States on a visitor's visa and could be deported after serving his sentence, Wagstaffe said. That will be decided in a federal immigration court, he said.
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 26 in San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City.
In order to avoid such schemes, Wagstaffe advised residentsto always ask hired workers for formal identification and their license to do the work.
“If anything seems suspicious, they should immediately stop and notify police,” Wagstaffe counseled.
— Bay City News