For release on April 22, 2013
Martha Donohoe, Deputy District Attorney
Consumer Protection Unit
COUNTY MOVING COMPANY SCAMMERS CHARGED
Eight San Jose moving company officials and employees have been charged with felony theft, income tax fraud and money laundering for a scheme in which they hooked customers with low-ball quotes, overcharged them - and then threatened to hold their furniture hostage to get the money.
The multi-agency, four year investigation uncovered evidence of hundreds of victims and that their unreported cash was used for under-the-table payments to workers, funneled to overseas accounts and to fund the luxury lifestyle of the company president and his wife, who bought his and hers Mercedes-Benz.
Three former employees were arraigned this afternoon. Five more are believed to have fled and face warrants for their arrest. Charged are: 36-year-old San Jose company principal Roni Hayon; his wife and office manager, 32- year-old Adii Therese Karter; 27-year-old office manager Adalinda “Linda” Reyna-Mendoza; 53-year-old salesman Wayne Allen; 36-year-old manager and foreman Maoz Kadesh; 37-year-old salesman, foreman and manager Ido Or; 29-year-old manager and foreman Noam Israeli; and 31-year-old Elazar Nisanov, a foreman. Allen, Kadesh and Reyna-Mendoza were arraigned today and entered not guilty pleas.
“Consumers should carefully check out moving companies before they schedule a moving date,” prosecutor Martha Donohoe said. “Check the company’s registration, search Better Business Bureau and Yelp ratings, and get an in-home visual estimate in advance of moving day. You can’t always tell, but you can lower the odds that you will end up the victim of a shady operation.”
The defendants were all part of a company operated under multiple names, including: ASAP Relocations, Inc., America’s Best Movers, Champions Movers, Fast Moving Van Lines, Inc., (also doing business as Fast Moves), Quick Quotes for Moving, Inc., and Encore Movers.
The defendants were indicted by a grand jury on 31-counts related to a scheme that began with the offer of low cost moving services. Once the customers' moves were in progress, the defendants cooperated to run up the final bills by adding previously undisclosed fees for required packing and packaging supplies. The hidden charges often doubled or tripled the initial fees quoted to customers. If customers balked at paying the increased fees then they were threatened with their belongings being taken to storage and incurring additional fees.
The investigation involved a multi-year effort by investigators from the Consumer Protection and Workers’ Compensation Units of the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Franchise Tax Board, the Alameda and Monterey County District Attorneys’ Offices, and the F.B.I.