May 23rd, 2016 | Category: Alerts
Carlyn Lucas, a single mother hired Best Offer Moving Company of Gaithersburg, MD to move her and her daughter to an apartment 10 miles down the road.
Carlyn accepted a quote of $348 but on the day of the move, after all their belongings were loaded onto the truck, Best Offer Moving Company demanded $1,391.50 which is over four times the original quote.
She told the company that she could not afford to pay, and they just drove off with everything Carlyn and her daughter owned. A classic bait and switch if ever there was one and strictly illegal. Under Maryland law a moving company cannot refuse to deliver a customer’s household goods when the move is within the state.
The bait and switch scam by moving companies happens many times a day in the US but what makes this case particularly unpleasant is that Carlyn’s daughter is unfortunately a deaf-mute with cerebral palsy. Taken away were not only their beds, clothes etc., but also vital medicines and equipment used by Carlyn’s daughter.
Fortunately, the Attorney General of Maryland, Brian Frosh took up the case and
Carlyn and her daughter were reunited with their belongings after 18 days. Frosh is now suing Best Offer Moving Company and the owner Andrey Dziapka.
March 16th, 2016 | Category: Companies
On their website, Moving APT claim to be “a long distance moving company” when in fact they have no current for-hire operating authority with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In reality they are a broker with a terrible reputation, as regular readers will know. See:
Recently Moving APT have been trying to salvage their reputation by posting fake reviews all over the web, including this website. Here are two reviews that they tried to post in our comments section:
Author: Jack fish (IP: 220.127.116.11)
Have never used a moving company before and finally decided I didn’t want to deal with all the hassle myself. All American made my moving experience painless from start to finish with no surprises. They were on time and professional, all with a competitive price. Nothing was damaged and everything was handled with care. I would hire them to move my house again without a question.
Author: Mike Nalson (IP: 18.104.22.168)
I recently moved from Weston Fl to CA everybody told me that moving was going to be stressful and do my homework on the company that I am going to choose even other moving companies I was speaking to were telling me my move was going to be tough. I moved from a third floor apartment with no elevator to a town home that you have to first walk up the stairs to get to my living room then another flight of stairs to the bedrooms. Different companies were quoting me different prices I was getting outrageous quotes some companies were telling me they wanted to charge for stairs each flight!! When I was finally contacted by an All American agent they explained the details of the job the hours it would take a provided me with a binding quote. They promised me that if my quote came in under they would adjust my bill and they did so. I had no hidden fees nor did I have any damages. The men were very polite and very professional everything was cared for the way it should have been. I am honestly surprised how smooth everything went. If you are looking for a good company this is the company to go with.
The two comments were posted from the same IP address using the same fake email address. It is no surprise that these two fake review attempts are as incompetent as their dealings with their clients.
February 8th, 2016 | Category: Alerts
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (NJDCA) deserve an award! In the past they have been very successful at undercover sting operations targeting rouge movers, here and here for example.
However, the NJDCA most recent sting was a real doozy netting 21 unlicensed public movers and five arrests on outstanding warrants. In addition, the Mobile Safety Freight Unit of the New Jersey State Police found 95 violations during mechanical inspections of the moving vans and trucks.
The Notice of Violation issued to each unlicensed public mover carries a civil penalty of $2,500 which is reduced to $1,250 if they become licensed within 30 days.
Movers receiving a Notice of Violation were:
- 4 Brothers Moving, Garfield
- ABC Moving, aka “Official Moving & Storage,” Brooklyn, New York
- Soho Moving & Storage, Old Bridge
- Moverland, aka “Manhattan Movers,” aka “Hoboken Movers,” Newark
- Mike Davis Pro Service, Cranford
- A Precision Movers, Belmar
- James Grodon Jr., Milford
- Hezzy’s In & Out Moving, Elmwood Park
- Beastman Movers, Northfield
- Garden City Movers aka “NJ State Moving Inc.,” Elizabeth
- Black Moon Movers, North Bergen
- Emmanuel Moving & Cleaning Service, Elizabeth
- Northeastern Van Lines, Queens, New York
- Stevenson’s Moving, East Orange
- Edison Movers, aka “M&M Moving & Storage,” Astoria, New York
- Rowell’s Moving and Hauling, Pleasantville
- Desoto Movers, Vineland
- Master Movers, Cherry Hill
- Rommel Service, Woodland Park
- TGS Moving, Newark
- IC Moving, Princeton
January 15th, 2016 | Category: People
Wanted For: Fraud Involving Moving Company
Charges: Conspiracy and grand theft
Height: 6′ 1″
Weight: 180 lbs.
NCIC No: W807218457
As we reported in April 2013 after a four year investigation by local and federal authorities a grand jury in Santa Clara County, California, charged eight individuals who owned and/or were employed by ASAP Relocations, Incorporated (ASAP), San Jose, California, for their respective roles in a scheme to defraud customers who had hired ASAP to move their household goods.
The individuals charged were: Moaz Kadesh, ASAP Foreman and Office Manager; Roni Hayon, ASAP owner and Chief Executive Officer; Adii Therese Karter, Hayon’s wife; Adalinda Reyna-Mendoza, ASAP Customer Service and Dispatch Manager; Wayne Allen, ASAP Sales Manager; Elazar Nisanov, ASAP Foreman; Ido Or, ASAP Foreman and Office Manager; and Noam Israeli, ASAP Foreman and Office Manager. The charges included conspiracy to commit grand theft, extortion, money laundering, tax fraud, and filing false employment tax returns.
The good news is that after 33 months on the run Noam Israeli was arrested after police in Washington State received an unrelated complaint about an erratic driver. Officers from the Arlington, Washington Police Department investigated the complaint and discovered that the perpetrator, Israeli, was wanted in California by State authorities, Department of Transport, Office of the Inspector General and FBI. He was living and working at a local business near Arlington. He is being held in Snohomish County Washington pending extradition to California to face charges for his alleged involvement in a household goods moving fraud scheme.
January 5th, 2016 | Category: Statistics, Uncategorized
Allied Van Lines has published its annual trend report on U.S. migration patterns based on their own data (sortable table below). The study is based on household moves handled by United within the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C.
Florida topped the list with a net gain of (3,168) households, Texas was second with a net gain (2,860) followed by North Carolina (1,858), Oregon (1,587) and Washington (1,089).
New York was the top outbound state with (2,818) net outbound moves followed by Illinois (2,505), New Jersey (2,061), Ohio (1,266) and Connecticut (869).
Based on Allied Van Lines data the most mobile State was California with 26,715 moves. Several states gained approximately the same number of residents as those that left including Alabama, North Dakota, Delaware and Louisiana.
You can read the full press release here.
|State||Outbound||Inbound||Net Moves||2015 Rank||2014 Rank||Change 2014-15
November 24th, 2015 | Category: Companies
Fort Lauderdale, FL moving company Duntara Moving & Storage (doing business as American Moving and Storage) are in the news this week.
Harold Hoffman’s move from New Jersey to Broward County started badly when after waiting all day the truck showed up at 5 pm. It took until 11 pm to load up at which point he was told that the original estimate of $2,900 had become nearly $5,000.
Upon delivery Hoffman was told to pay the difference in cash before the driver would unload. Not only was he the victim of the common hostage moving scam but when he inspected his belongings some items had been damaged and others were missing.
Calls to Mike Ozen the owner of Duntara were never returned and Ozen even went into hiding when the local TV station visited his company’s office in person.
With 22 one star reviews out of a total of 25 on Yelp and 65 complaints in the last three years registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) none of this is surprising.
Typical Yelp comments include:
“Run, hide, don’t ever use this company” – Summer A. of San Diego, CA.
“This place deserves zero stars” – Thomas N. of Melbourne, FL.
“They are the worst company I have ever worked with” – Jodi F. of Chicago, IL.
“Warning do not hire them” – Carly S. of Boston, MA.
If you use this company be prepared for a moving nightmare.
November 19th, 2015 | Category: Alerts
A TV news item on KPRC 2 last week showed an undercover video taken in the food court at Houston’s Galleria. In the clip below you can see a woman in the food court approached by a man offering $10 cash for a five star review of Movers Fort Worth based in Bellaire Drive S, Fort Worth, TX. She agrees and the man then takes her phone and uses the Yelp App to leave a favourable review. Subsequently the review showed up word for word on the Yelp page for Movers Fort Worth. (Although Movers Fort Worth claims to be a moving company it is just a two-bit broker with a disposable office and telephone).
Movers Fort Worth is part of a nationwide fake review scam run by Sukhrab Karimov. His center of operations is the Movers Alliance of Westmorland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA which claims to be “An alliance of the best moving companies under one roof”. It is in fact no such thing and is simply front for dozens of scam moving companies including; The Incredible Movers Inc., ABC Moving & Storage, Professionals Movers, Pyramid Moving Systems, JT Relocation, All Out Moving & Storage, Green World Moving and many others.
Regular readers will know that we have highlighted the problem of moving company fake reviews many times in the past. Now fortunately Yelp have investigated the fake review network and issued Reputation Warnings (image below) on more than 100 listings for moving companies who are connected to the Movers Alliance.
Yelp have published a small portion of the evidence accumulated during the investigation.
Yelp noticed many reviews on listings associated with Movers Alliance that mention discounts in exchange for Yelp reviews. Here are some examples, with relevant portions highlighted.
Yelp were forwarded messages showing that users received discounts in exchange for posting reviews on Movers Alliance listings, including listings in different states than the business they transacted with.
Movers Alliance associated businesses offered payment in exchange for users moving reviews to listings in other states, with which the user had no experience.
Yelp have evidence of Movers Alliance agreements to remove reviews in exchange for refunds.
Yelp have evidence that businesses affiliated with Movers Alliance paid users for reviews.
Highlighting fake reviws for 100 moving companies is the tip of the iceburg but it’s a start.
November 11th, 2015 | Category: People
Two court updates this week.
Last week moving company scammer Tasheen Pickett of Fulton County pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property related to a scheme to rob customers of their household possessions in U.S. District Court, Atlanta, GA.
Pickett owned and operated J and P Moving, a company that claimed to provide moving services even though they had no authority from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to do so. They would load up customers possessions and hold them hostage or never return them.
U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General agents identified thirty-four victims of stolen or hostage loads taken by Pickett. Fortunately they were able to reunite twenty of the victims with most but not all of their possessions. Pickett is scheduled to be sentenced January 6, 2016.
January 20th, 2016 Update: After pleading guilty Tasheen Pickett has been sentenced to 48 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He is also ordered to pay more than $400,000 in restitution, court documents reveal.
Also last week Louis Massaro of Scottsdale, AZ and Pompano Beach, FL pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and failure to return household goods.
Massaro owned and operated Moving and Storage Inc., which did business as Neighbors Moving and Storage. Although the company advertised as a mover of household goods they actually operated as a broker and without notifying their clients passed jobs onto other carriers.
Massaro and his co-conspirator (the actual carrier) operated a bait and switch scam in which Neighbors Moving and Storage would provide lowball estimates and falsely tell customers that upon payment of a deposit and a binding fee the price would be guaranteed.
After customers made initial payments Massaro and his co-conspirators would obtain more money from them in ways that are very familiar to regular readers. These include lying about the number of items to be moved and or the weight of those items. Afterwards the price of the move would increase by thousands of dollars and drivers were directed not to deliver any goods until all the money was collected.
If a customer refused to pay they were told that their household goods would be placed in storage and that they would have to pay before their goods would be delivered including an additional amount of money for storage fees. If they failed to do so, their items would be sold at auction.
Federal authorities said that victims lost more than $112,000 over the lifespan of Massaro’s scam which lasted for just over two years.
Massaro’s activities are mentioned in an interesting article on The Mafia and The Moving & Storage Industry in Florida.
Massaro is scheduled to be sentenced February 9, 2016.
October 29th, 2015 | Category: Companies
Nore Salman hired Master Movers of Indianapolis to move her from Chicago to Oklahoma City. She ended up with a move from hell.
None of her bad experiences will come as a surprise to regular readers but they do once again show the importance of thorough research before trusting any moving company with your possessions.
Master Movers has 66 reviews on Yelp and is rated with one star, the lowest possible. Interestingly 57 reviews are ‘not recommended’, including the recent one from Nore Salman. Yelp uses automated software to classify reviews as ‘not recommended’ and it would seem that strong language is a factor. For example recent ‘not recommended’ reviews include “Run away from this establishment as fast as you can”, “Worst company ever”, and “This company is a complete fraud and I would not recommend them to my worst enemy”.
Better Business Bureau rate them a ‘B’ even though there have been 38 complaints in the last 3 years. This is because Master Movers is a BBB Accredited Business i.e. has paid BBB an Accreditation Fee and ratings are often inflated for these companies.
Nore Salman was given a $2,400 quote but the price was increased by $3,500 while her goods were held hostage. Her estimate was non-binding (which means that actual charges can increase) and Master Movers do claim that there were 10 addition boxes. However a demand for 246% of the original estimate is obviously not reasonable. As usual in these cases calls to the company were not returned.
Eventually, after the intervention of KFOR-TV and paying over double the original estimate, her goods were delivered. Unfortunately almost everything turned up either wet or damaged, or both.
A wet, dirty, torn mattress and a broken jewelry box with ripped out screws.
What’s left of a dresser and a stained chair.
Nore Salman has filed a complaint with Indiana’s Attorney General and is in the process of filing a claim with Master Movers. As is so often the case her chances of a successful outcome are remote. As we always say, avoid using companies like this by doing thorough research before hiring.
October 19th, 2015 | Category: Companies
Full Service Van Lines in South Florida has been shut down by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) following an investigation that found fifteen violations of federal safety regulations.
These included failing to implement a random drug or alcohol testing program, requiring or permitting drivers to work longer than the law allows and using a driver before drug test results were received.
Full Service Van Lines came to the attention of the DOT because inspectors have this year received more complaints from consumers about the company than any other of comparable size. Consumers had been encouraged to use the company after reading hundreds of five star reviews on moving company review sites. Unfortunately these reviews are fake.
Analysis of 722 reviews of Full Service Van Lines on one well known moving company review site showed the typical pattern (chart below) demonstrated in previous posts e.g. Idiotic Fake Reviews. A typical moving company with 10+ vans would be doing well if it received an average of 2 reviews per week. Full Service Van Lines procured an average of 12 five star reviews a week with 4 vans.
A couple of review sites are getting better at spotting fake reviews and will show a banner alerting consumers to unusual activity. The two images below popped up for Full Service Van Lines on Yelp and MyMovingReviews recently.
Full Service Van Lines president Maxx Socher is the brother of Joshua Socher who was banned a year ago from engaging in the intrastate moving service business. With the complaints mounting up it can’t be long before Maxx follows in his brother’s footsteps.
Below is a clip from an NBC6 news item on the shutting down of Full Service Van Lines where Maxx Socher is interviewed by Tony Pipitone.