How To Avoid Being Extorted By a Home Moving Company in Spokane!
Unfortunately for legitimate moving companies everywhere, a few bad actors have given the industry a bad name in some people’s eyes. That’s why it’s so satisfying to hear about the owner of a sketchy moving company facing the justice he deserves.
Louis Massaro ran moving companies in Arizona and Florida, and he was convicted of running every moving homeowner’s worst nightmare. Massaro lured in marks by offering cheap local movers with a fixed rate and a binding fee. He then hired a subcontractor to actually move the items without the customer’s knowledge. While en route, he would claim the items weighed more than listed in his “binding quote,” then add fee after fee onto the bill. When customers balked, he threatened to auction off the items, which were only returned after the money was paid.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General has terms for schemes like this — extortion, fraud, criminal — to name a few. The scam was exposed as part of the DOT’s Operation Boxed Up, which investigates bad local movers. Now, Massaro is facing a year in prison, $80,000 fines and three years of supervised release, which many people feel is a light sentence for holding someone’s entire life hostage.
Americans are more mobile than ever before, and while that’s good news for our local movers in Spokane, it means more homeowners and college grads are vulnerable to conmen offering cheap local movers. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, since 1980, an average of 16.8% of the population relocates every year (that’s roughly 43 million people). Today, many young people expect to move annually. An estimated 35.6% of people aged 20-24 relocate every year, and 30.7% of people aged 25-29 do so as well.
So how can you avoid shady moving companies when you hire movers in Spokane, Washington, or anywhere else? Police treat these crimes like civil matters and rarely intervene, which means prevention is the best defense.
It can be tough. After all, movers like Massaro offer everything many homeowners are looking for in cheap movers, a binding quote, low rates and fixed rates. At the minimum, make sure your movers are licensed and insured.
Whenever possible, look for moving companies with a good reputation, not just online but in your local community. Our local movers in Spokane have won awards from companies like Angie’s List and are active in the community. And remember: the lowest quote may not always be the best quote.
Finally, if you’ve hired a moving company that’s trying to hold your items for ransom, do not hesitate to contact the DOT Office of Inspector General or the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s toll-free fraud hotline at: 1-888-368-7238. Finally, there is a national database for complaints against sketchy movers, which you can check here.