Fourteen moving companies, which operated principally out of a business address in Hollywood, Fla., with a warehouse in West Chester, Ohio, are in trouble with the U.S. Justice Department.
The government says 12 people conspired in a racketeering scheme between April 2013 and July 2018 to steal from customers who hired them. They have now been indicted by a federal grand jury. The federal prosecutors claim the defendants gave a price that the customers agreed to and then raised it once they had the stuff on the truck.
There are believed to be at least 900 victims throughout the U.S., including in Florida, Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, California, Connecticut, Colorado and Missouri.
Here's How They Did It
The moving companies would allegedly refuse to give back the household goods until customers paid the inflated prices. In some cases, they would outright steal the customer's property.
In one case, First National Moving and Storage is said to have loaded a customer's goods to transport from Round Rock, Texas to Columbus, Ohio. After loading the goods, the company increased the cost. When the customer called the company to complain she was told her items would be auctioned if she didn not pay the higher price.
The defendants are charged with conspiring to conduct the affairs of the moving companies through a pattern of racketeering activity, consisting of multiple acts of wire fraud, theft of an interstate shipment by carrier, Hobbs Act extortion and identification fraud.
They operated and worked through a number of affiliated moving companies including:
- First National Moving and Storage
- Flagship Van Lines
- Independent Van Lines
- JBR Underground
- National Relocation Van Lines
- National Reclocation Solutions
- Presidential Moving Services
- Public Moving and Storage
- Public Moving Services
- Smart Relocation Solutions
- Trident Auto Shipping
- Unified National Moving and Storage
- US Relocation Systems
The Justice Department says the defendants allegedly lied to customers about how long their moving companies had been in business and created fake online reviews.
Ben Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, says if you were scammed to call 1-800-424-9071 or go to firstname.lastname@example.org