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.