Plumbing Problems? Beware of Fake Business Profiles on Google

Alex Polivy searched for a local plumber and found Cornerstone Plumbing, which was listed as being in Sudbury, Massachusetts; there is no plumbing company at the posted address and police in the town can't find a business record for it

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When you need a home repair, a quick Google search can help you find someone to do the fix. But the company you call may not be the one that shows up at your door.

Alex Polivy of Sudbury, Massachusetts, found a local listing for a plumber a couple of weeks ago when his hose valve blew off.



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"I just Googled plumbers near me and Cornerstone Plumbing showed up on Google and had some reviews," said Polivy.

The listing showed a Sudbury address on Boston Post Road and local phone number.
Polivy called Cornerstone Plumbing and they told him they could get a plumber to his house that day. They also sold him a one-year membership for priority service and discounted parts and labor.

"They said that would be $99 one-time fee or you could pay $149 service fee good for one year as many times as you want, plus 10% parts and labor. I said, 'OK, sign me up for that, that sounds good,' because I have other contracts with oil companies, all these other warranties," he said.

But when Polivy got the contract via email, it didn't say "Cornerstone Plumbing." It said "Premium Home Service." He says he was told Premium Home Service was the servicing provider for Cornerstone.

When the plumber showed up, Polivy says he cut the main valve off to the water, and water poured everywhere.

"He's yelling, 'Go get a bucket! go get a bucket!'" said Polivy. "I started questioning him and thinking, 'Are you even a plumber?'"

Things took a turn when it was time to pay the bill. Polivy said he asked who he should make the check out to, and he says the plumber told him he would only take payment by CashApp or Venmo.

"I said, 'Well, I don't have those,'" said Polivy. "I said, 'I'll call Cornerstone to make the payment.' He goes, 'No, you're going to pay me.' So I said, 'How much do I owe you?' and he said $800. I said, 'Eight hundred dollars to put the valve on? That's crazy, I'm not giving you $800.' He said, 'Give me $700 to leave.'"

Polivy says instead of having a confrontation with him, he gave him the money so he would go. He made a payment via another money transfer app and admits he did not ask for an estimate before the work started.

"As soon as he left, I got in the car and I drove to the address which was listed online as Cornerstone Plumbing," said Polivy. "I get out and there is clearly no plumbing business."

Sudbury Police say they can't find a business record for Cornerstone Plumbing in town, and they say the management company of the building where it is supposed to be located has no information on the company, either.

When NBC10 Boston called Cornerstone Plumbing to ask questions about their location, a man answering the phone said the Sudbury address on their listing was old, that they are moving. He said he would have a manager call back, but no one did. We also called Premium Home Service and were told there was no way to get in touch with a manager before they hung up on us.

The Better Business Bureau, which gives Premium Home Service an F rating, says it appears the company is based in Chicago.

Google says it is working hard to tackle the problem of fake business profiles.

"Our team looked into this case and is taking immediate action to remove policy-violating content and disable the user account associated with the business profile," a Google spokesperson said. "We have clear policies that prohibit fake and fraudulent contributed content, and our automated systems and trained operators work around clock to monitor maps for suspicious behavior."

"I would just really take the time to look at who you're doing business with, which I didn't because I was in the middle of a water leak," said Polivy. "I would just say just careful who comes into your home, who you trust."

When you are hiring someone, always get referrals from friends and neighbors. Make sure that the contractor or company is licensed. And get a written estimate before the work is done.

If a disagreement with a contractor occurs and it reaches a level where your safety is concerned, call the police.

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