Moving company charged with shaking down dozens of customers relocating during pandemic
It was a bad move. The operators of a New Jersey moving company have been charged with shaking down customers for over $300,000 by suddenly jacking up their prices and demanding cash after they had loaded people’s belongings onto their trucks.
Prosecutors say brothers Abdal Abuawad, 26, and Abdalh Abuawad, 28, and their manager Yousef AlMallad, 31, all of Patterson, N.J., extorted dozens of customers over the past year as many people sought to relocate during the coronavirus pandemic. The defendants ran Abda Moving LLC, which operated as 11Even Movers & Storage out of Rockaway, N.J., providing packing and moving services to destinations all over the country. Prosecutors say the movers would wait until their customers were in the vulnerable position of having moved out of their homes and having all of their possessions loaded onto trucks, before hitting them with huge, added fees — sometimes as much as doubling or tripling the original estimate. The movers would sometimes demand 50% of the additional costs in cash up front before carrying on with the move, prosecutors said. By law, estimates given by movers are non-binding, but the final fee cannot rise more than 10% above the original quoted price, prosecutors said. An attorney for Abdal Abuawad said his client denied responsibility, noting that most of the clients were referred to his company through relocation brokers who had provided the original price quotes, which often substantially underestimated the size of the loads. “We look forward to learning more about the role of the brokers in all of this,” said Abuawad’s attorney, Robert Stahl. Attorneys for Abdalh Abuawad and AlMallad declined to comment. According to court documents, an FBI raid on the company’s office revealed that between December 2020 and September of this year, the company jacked up prices well above 10% on 66 of its 215 customers during that time, raking in $337,000 in additional fees. For example, prosecutors said the movers provided an estimate of $5,000 to one customer for a move from Connecticut to Colorado, but once everything was on the truck, suddenly raised the price to $10,000 saying there were double the amount of goods than originally estimated. In another instance, the company allegedly quoted a customer approximately $5,600 for a move from Oregon to Pennsylvania, but then demanded nearly $14,000 once the goods had been loaded on the truck. In some cases, the company is accused of being months late in delivering items, and sometimes not delivering them at all. The website of the Better Business Bureau showed more than two dozen complaints against 11Even Moving, some of which appear to match the activities alleged by prosecutors. One customer wrote, “They came for pickup on June 17th and after loading half of our belongings demanded an extra $2050+ in addition to what the estimate from the broker was. Stating if I denied the additional cost they can charge me $5000 just to unload.” All three men have been charged with wire fraud and face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.