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Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.
Scams

Owner of NJ Moving Companies Kept Customers’ Items to Jack Up Prices: Prosecutors

Over several years, the scheme raked in more than $1 million in excess fees, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Moving boxes and man holding clipboard
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What to Know

  • The owner of moving companies in NJ would quote low prices to move household goods, then jack up prices after loading the trucks
  • Prices were sometimes raised as much as 400 percent, as the scammers threatened to keep items in storage until they got paid
  • The owner, Richard Bishara, will have to pay restitution of more than $72,000; the scam raked in over $1M in excess fees, officials said

It's a familiar scam: A moving company loads the truck, then jacks the quoted price, refusing to complete the delivery until payment is made.

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey said Richard Bishara pulled it off hundreds of times using a series of moving companies he owned or operated. On Thursday, a federal judge sentenced Bishara to five years in prison.

Bishara, 43, of Woodland Park, will have to pay restitution of more than $72,000 after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud conspiracy.

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Authorities said Bishara and his co-conspirators quoted low-ball prices for moving household goods. On the day of the move, and after trucks had been loaded, they would raise the price by as much as 400 percent. A criminal complaint said the scammers threatened to keep the customer's belongings in storage until they got paid.

Over several years, the scheme raked in more than $1 million in excess fees, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Prosecutors and the defense had agreed on a sentence of 27 to 51 months, but the judge imposed more time.

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