14 Moving Company Crooks Indicted

A federal court handed down indictments against 14 moving company employees for extorting money from customers. Allegedly, they would sucker people in with low estimates, then ask for much more money on delivery, and not release the goods until the price was paid. Of all the moving company complaints we receive at The Consumerist, this one is the most common. It’s always important to check out a moving company’s rep beforehand; ask friends for recommendations, look up their BBB report, and see if they’re talked about on sites like MovingScam.com and MovingSham.com. Don’t just go for whoever is cheapest, a low-price could end up costing you a lot.

Feds crack down on moving industry [San Jose Mercury News]
RELATED: How To Find a Reputable Mover
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. joeblevins says:

    Linked story requires registration.

  2. mthrndr says:

    The best thing you can do when looking for a moving company is just do a search for that company. Try different phrases too, like “So and So sucks” or “Avoid So and So”. the BBB doesn’t always have updated information, but internet forums usually do. If that fails, if the movers show up in a rented truck (not branded with their company name) DO NOT LET THEM IN THE DOOR. In 2004 we got scammed by a company called “East Coast Moving Systems”, which for some insane reason I didn’t research until AFTER they had picked up our belongings. This company didn’t hold our stuff hostage, they just took it and then wouldn’t answer our phone messages or calls. It was about 2 months later before their whole operation fell apart – it seems they were taking goods, storing them in Public Storage facilities around the country, and then leaving the stuff there. We found ours, with Florida FBI help, in a facility in CT. At first, Public Storage wouldn’t even release it to us, since we hadn’t signed the rental agreement. Finally, with prompting from the feds, they let us in. We were lucky. Some people rented trucks, got to Public Storage, only to find an empty unit. About 350 people were affected by ECMS, an Israeli “company” based out of Florida. The owner was deported to Israel.

  3. riverstyxxx says:

    @joeblevins:

    Try this, but I haven’t tested: [www.bugmenot.com]

    Tell those moving jokers to get real jobs instead of hauling couches and resorting to extortion.

  4. sleze69 says:

    someone just cut and paste the article in the comments so we all don’t have to spend time registering…

  5. PinkBox says:

    I know I spent a lot more money than advertised when I moved a couple of years ago.

    They charged “per foot”, but amazingly their estimate of the space we’d need was a good $500 less than it ended up being.

    We didn’t have a measuring tape to counter with the markings they had inside the van. They did look a good deal shorter than they should have been.

    I also had some other movers take their sweet ass time moving things, and I was charged over $600. They even packed a FULL trashcan I specifically asked them NOT to pack when I saw them pick it up. Wtf?

  6. misstic says:

    movingscam.com saved my sanity the last time we moved. I am so glad I stumbled upon them while googling for a moving company last year. We fell victim to the lowball estimate/furniture held hostage scam a few years ago. The crew supervisor started backing off his “revised estimate that gets you your stuff back” when my husband came out of the new garage with a pair of heavy duty bolt cutters. He walked over to the back of thier truck and without a word, proceeded to try and cut the padlock off while the guys were taking a smoke break. I was on the phone with their “corporate office” in tears while this was happening. Crew supervisor suddenly tells us that he’s got “room to play” with the numbers….

    Bottom line – we paid 1.5 times the original estimate. They were total crap weasels and we got scammed. I wanted to fight it but it my husband invisioned our stuff going bye bye so he paid the ransom.

    Thank God they are trying to bring down these scumbags now.

  7. misstic says:

    movingscam.com saved my sanity last year when we moved. I am so glad I found them while googling “moving scams”.

    We fell victim to the “lowball estimate/holding your furniture hostage” scam a few years ago.

    The “Crew Supervisor” told us that we needed to pay TRIPLE the original estimate in order for him to “release” our stuff. Said stuff is on their truck, in front of our new house with a padlock and three burly guys standing in front of it.

    I called their Corporate office and the lady I spoke with put all of it on the Crew Supervisor and basically told me to deal with him because of the contract wording.

    Stalemate. My husband got a bolt cutter and proceeded to tell these guys to take a hike. Words were exchanged and the bottom line was that the Crew Sup. suddenly remembered that he could offer us a “discount”. We paid 1.5 times the original estimate. I wanted to fight it but hubby saw our stuff going bye bye so he paid the ransom.

    That moving company closed down not long afterwards.

  8. misstic says:

    sorry about the double post!!!! computer is going wacky.

  9. Buran says:

    Why don’t people just call the police and say “these people are committing theft and won’t return my stuff”?

  10. timmus says:

    The police would likely say, “Sorry, this is a civil matter.”

  11. taney71 says:

    I believe stealing isn’t a civil matter

  12. Tallanvor says:

    Yes! Finally!

    AY Transport managed to get me 5 years ago. They lied about the delivery date, said they would charge based on the weight as the contract stated, and then refused to weigh it and charged me at least double what it should have cost.

    When I made complaints, the DoT said there was nothing they could do. The BBB is useless – good for nothing more than being able to say you tried, and when I looked into taking them to court, I was told the law in my state wouldn’t actually let me sue them there since the company did not have an official presence there. –Apparently I’d have had to sue them in California where they’re based. Flying across the country for a lawsuit wasn’t something I was prepared to do right after starting a new job.

    Let’s hope those people rot in prison for many years.

  13. I think moving companies present much the same problem that the wedding industry and funeral industry present — most people don’t have to deal with them more than once every decade or so, so it’s difficult for individuals to discover and reward a good company.

    This is one of the things the internet’s supposed to fix (what with all the info sharing on scammy merchants) but it still seems slow in these areas … I guess because with once-a-decade services it just takes a while to build up data.

  14. Mr. Cynical says:

    Add CHAMPIONS MOVERS of FREMONT, CA to the list of movers that should be indicted. On top of damaging my stuff, hiking my price up $1,100 dollars, lying about extra packaging costs.

    They have now even resorted to FORGING my signature on documents I refused to sign at the end of my move, and sending them to my bank in an effort to try and DEFRAUD my bank into giving them more money!

  15. SarcasticDwarf says:

    @taney71: Actually, it is to law enforcement depending on the circumstances. In this case there was a contract between two parties (verbal or written-it does not really matter). That essentially makes it an automatic civil issue.

  16. akalish says:

    NYC locals should go with New York Magazine’s best movers in their annual “best of” issue. The company who was “best of” when we needed a mover I think was Moishe’s Movers. They were timely, polite, helpful, considerate, friendly, and even replaced a cracked slate server-top when they weren’t obligated to according to the contract. Recommendations from a reputable source are sooo key.

  17. missdona says:

    Also in NY, look at Flat Rate moving. You inventory, they give you a guaranteed price and if your inventory doesn’t change, then their price does not change.

    I’ve done two successful moves with them.

  18. trujunglist says:

    @Mr. Cynical:

    Mr. C (hmm, that handle sounds familiar.. you use a Mac right? Tell that bitch whatshername I said fuck you and die please), I was in the same boat as you until I went through CSRs and got several of them to admit that they’re scammers and full of shit. On the phone. Recording conversations. Once I got them to admit that they were full of shit, they made sure everything was legit to avoid the inevitable lawsuit.
    My advice to you is to record the conversations and use simple logic to undermine everything they say. Eventually, one of the CSRs will mess up, and you’ll have them.

  19. Zagroseckt says:

    He someone down my street had this pulled on them.
    price was one thing till they got to the new house…

    moving company lernd quick not to mess with this guy. he confenscated there truck! by picking it up with a backho and putting it in his garage sideways :p

    might of ben a large forklift but it had one of those shuvle things on the hind end :) police showd up and did nothing. told em to eather work itout there or in cort and orderd the movers to leave the earia.

    dont know how it ended i might have to ask them. ben a few years tho.

  20. rhombopteryx says:

    I’m frankly amazed. Shocked! I can’t believe that the very same industry that Mr. Reagan in all his wisdom deregulated would have any bad issues with customer service. It must have been a model industry to be deregulated, it must have had perfect customer service to get an exemption from state unfair and deceptive practices law… Think about it – for Congress to say “no, you don’t have to abide by pesky state laws like truthful billing, binding estimates, no bait-and-switch, no doublecounting” – and drop multiple bills attempting to repeal that exemption – the industry must be on excellent behavior. I’m sure lobbyist $ has nothing to do with it.

  21. MYarms says:

    This happened to my family when we moved from NJ to Florida in 1991. The movers were late getting to our new home and then demanded more money and held our belongings hostage. When we paid them they still never gave us all of our stuff, we lost a bunch of antique items. I was young at the time so I don’t remember the details but I think we actually got some of our money back but we never again saw our property that was never given back to us. At least nowadays its a hell of a lot easier to find out about shady businesses thru the internet, we didn’t really have that luxury back then.

  22. pmr12002 says:

    try this link:
    [www.mercurynews.com]

  23. sicknick says:

    This happened to me and roommates while living in Baltimore. Some time afterword, I was sent a newspaper clipping that said the state was putting forth legislation to hold movers accountable for this practice. Not sure if that ever happened.

  24. chartrule says:

    its easier to just rent a truck from a local rental company and get friends to do the work for beer and pizza

  25. mthrndr says:

    @Zagroseckt: are you, by any chance, a LOLcat?