Empire Movers Blog

Moving Scam Busted! Empire Movers caught scammers red-handed!

May 29, 2018

The number of moving scams has increased rapidly in recent years and have now become a real danger for the moving industry. Scammers steal the identities of honest businesses and afterwards start taking advantage of people looking to move their belongings. They can target any business. They even targeted ours. Fortunately, we managed to stop them in time. Last week, Florin Petruta, the owner of Empire Movers, managed to catch these scammers in the act. We spoke to him about the incident. Here’s what he had to say:

How did you find out about this company that stole Empire Movers’ business and identity?

We found out from a customer who called to complain that “we” doubled the price we quoted them just a couple of days earlier. We did a swift investigation and found out who they were and what they were up to.

Why did they target Empire Movers?

They targeted us because we are representative for the industry. We keep a stellar service. So, by using a trustworthy identity, they believed it would be much easier to convince a customer to move with them.

How do these scammers operate?

Most of the times the customer has the tendency to choose the company with the cheapest price, however the price will not alway be the best choice in deciding what company to move with. Since is a competitive market, the scammers to get to your pocket, will lowball the moving cost, so you will choose them.

Then, they will use a fake company identity, and, based on this totally bogus identity will, they show up to you stepdoor on moving day.

The guys will start working like any other mover and, once they move the furniture and boxes in the truck, that’s when the show starts. They’ll say that there are much more items to move, much more work and they’ll tell you that they need to recalculate the cost of the move. At this point, it’s too late to do anything, if you don’t know how to protect yourself.

The mover has most of your stuff in their possession and you have to move out since it’s your last day on the lease. You want to fix the issue with the movers, however you don’t want to lose the deposit from the landlord, so you will go ahead, thinking that a little conversation with the manager of the moving company will bring the price back down.

If you’re dealing with a long distance move, the situation will be much worse. Once the moving truck is on its way, the scammers will tell you that you’ll be charged double. Why? They will invent numerous reasons for this. And, unfortunately, you’ll have to pay, if you want your stuff back. The law won’t protect you. You have to pay, get your stuff, and only afterwards you’ll be able to start a civil case against them. But this is where another surprise comes in.

You’ll find out that the documents they left are fake. The name will be fake. The company will be someone else’s company. That’s how it happened to us. Fake name, fake address, everything fake.

And I mustn’t forget to mention that scammers insist their victims pay in cash. So you won’t be able to do a chargeback or trace the people behind it.

Everything starts from that extremely low initial quotation. Our advice is to do your homework and stay informed. There are so many greedy and dishonest people around and they seem to like to take advantage of the moving industry.

How long did it take before you managed to stop them?

The story just started. We are investigating  and monitoring the scammers. The person behind this is still on the loose. But it won’t be too long until he pays for everything.

How dangerous are these scammers? Can they damage your business?

These individuals are defrauding millions of dollars each year, money that is taken from the pockets of hard working people. They have no remorse and don’t care about their victims. They know exactly what they do and they are extremely organised. In some cases, the scam even turned into actual crime.

Would you have been able to stop them without the help of the customer?

Let’s put it like this. It would have been much more difficult.

What advice do you have for companies such as Empire Movers, that may also be targeted by scammers?

Companies, no matter the industry, should check online regularly, to make sure that other entities don’t copy their names and use them to attract customers. If you don’t do it, you’ll not only lose business, but your reputation as well.

What happened to the scammers once they were caught? Did the customer manage to get her money back?

I can’t tell you much about the outcome. The guys were caught red handed. But I can tell you that the customer did receive the money back. It happened because we acted fast.

Our reputation was on the line. So we wanted to make sure that no one gets hurt. I don’t want anyone to use my business to harm others.

What advice do you have for the people looking to hire professional movers?

It is extremely easy  to find out if you’re dealing with a legitimate business. First, check on social media to see what other people say about the company. Check their licensing, which should be displayed on the company’s website and on the paperwork. Make sure these two match.

But remember, just because they have a license number, it doesn’t mean it’s real. Go to the DOT web page and check the company out. (You can use this link)

And you can also call the DOT and ask them about the company you plan to hire.

Moving season is here. So we expect the number of moving scams to rise. As a customer, you need to check each moving company, to make sure that they are legitimate, just like Empire Movers.