The owner of a Florida moving company pleaded guilty last week to charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, hiring illegal aliens, and violating federal transportation laws.
Yaron Tishby, president of All American Van Lines of Pembroke Park, FL, entered the plea after an investigation by the Department of Transportation, Florida authorities and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Under Tishby's direction, employees of the company intentionally offered artificially low estimates to customers, failed to disclose charges for packing and other moving-related services, and were discouraged from providing customers with written documentation. It is alleged that the company targeted wealthy, single, elderly women as customers.
After loading the customer's goods, Tishby's employees would demand full payment in cash of the overinflated bill. People who refused to pay had their belongings placed in storage by the moving company, where they were often stolen or damaged. Customers were not informed of a regulation allowing them to pay 110% of the original estimate and get their belongings back. Their requests for refunds were routinely denied.
Tishby faces up to 17 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 for each count except the illegal alien charge. On that count, he faces a fine of up to $3,000 for each illegal alien he employed. His company is no longer in business.
In May, the American Moving & Storage Assn. unveiled a voluntary certification program that will help consumers avoid scams like the one perpetrated by All American Van Lines.