A father-son duo who owns several moving companies based in New York City were arrested Tuesday for allegedly extorting customers to pay more money by holding their belongings hostage.
In an unsealed indictment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York says Michael Nadel and his son Yarin Nadel of Fresh Meadows, Queens, teamed up with others to hike up estimates for their moving services and also later charging more than 10% of the original fees.
If customers refused the additional fees, the movers would threaten to sell and auction off their belongings.
The Nadels allegedly registered many different interstate moving companies under different names, often using fake names and addresses, according to the indictment. Some of the company names include: Clock Moving Services, Direct Van Lines Services and State to State Moving NY.
Aside from extortion, the Nadels and others who were in on the scheme are accused of quoting estimates to people with no intention of ever moving their possessions. They would show up with not enough people to move the goods and with rental trucks that are way too small, the indictment said.
Many customers who wanted their belongings back and agreed to pay the additional fees received their things weeks, or even months, after the scheduled delivery dates. Valuable items were also often missing or damaged.
The duo and other obtained at least $100,000 from the tactic, according to the indictment.
Several complaints on the Better Business Bereau's website echoed the accusations.
One former customer of Moving State to State LLC, also operated out of Queens by the Nadels, wrote that the movers took a $6,380 deposit, $2,500 for packing material and promised a minimum of four movers due to the size of the household.
Only two movers showed up, according to the customer, and the company said movers will come back another day. When the customer declined and asked for the money back, the company only offered half of it, "stating that we cancelled on them and they provided adequate service," the complainant said.
In addition to wire fraud charges, the Nadels were also charged with Conspiracy to Defraud the U.S. and making false statements. They allegedly submitted fake addresses and lied about the affiliation and relationship between their companies to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
It was unknown whether the Nadels have a legal representative who could speak on their behalf.