FBI warns Illinois, 9 other states of moving company scam

CINCINNATI — Are you a victim of a national moving company scheme?

The FBI charged 12 people with conspiring in a racketeering enterprise “to defraud individuals through their moving companies located throughout the United States, including in Florida, Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, California, Connecticut, Colorado and Missouri.”

More than 900 victims have been identified.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman said more victims could be in every state.

This is how the scam works: the group would offer a low binding estimate for the moving work, then once the items were loaded on a truck, the suspects would demand more money.

In some cases, the group would threaten to auction off the victim’s belongs, if they didn’t pay.  Sometimes, the belongings were never delivered.

“Under federal regulations, in a binding estimate a customer and the motor carrier must both agree in writing to a charge for services prior to the start of any work. When an estimate is binding, USDOT prevents interstate carriers from raising the price of the move after loading customers’ items,” according to the release.

The group operated at least 14 companies:

  • First National Moving and Storage
  • Flagship Van Lines
  • Independent Van Lines
  • JBR Underground
  • National Relocation Van Lines
  • National Relocation Solutions
  • Presidential Moving Services
  • Public Moving and Storage
  • Public Moving Services
  • Smart Relocation Solutions
  • Trident Auto Shipping
  • Unified Van Lines
  • United National Moving and Storage
  • US Relocation Systems

Investigators said the scheme happened hundreds of times between April 2013 and July 2018.

If you believe you are a victim of this fraudulent activity, please call the Victim Hotline at 1-800-424-9071 or email hotline@oig.dot.gov.