Attorney General Chiesa and Division of Consumer Affairs Obtain Default Judgment Against Two North Jersey Moving Companies and their Principals
NEWARK – Two moving companies that provided low-ball estimates to consumers, and then held furniture and other moved possessions hostage if consumers refused to pay amounts significantly higher than the agreed-upon prices, have been assessed $21.2 million in civil penalties, consumer restitution and legal/investigative reimbursements to the State, under a Final Judgment by Default issued in State Superior Court, Passaic County.
Defendants Progressive Movers, Inc., and its owner/operator Konstantin Egorov, and ABC Packing Supplies, Inc., and its owner/operator Yevgeniy Piskun, must pay $123,532 in consumer restitution to about 70 past customers, under terms of the Final Judgment by Default issued on March 11, 2013. The State will docket the judgment as a state-wide lien, as the defendants do not have the ability at this time to make the Court-ordered payments.
Based on the investigation conducted by the Division of Consumer Affairs, the Court found that the defendants committed hundreds of violations of the state's Public Mover's Licensing Act and Consumer Fraud Act, and related regulations. Progressive Movers and Egorov also violated terms of a 2010 Consent Order with the Division, resulting in imposition now of a previously suspended civil penalty of $55,000.
"These defendants enticed consumers with low-cost moves that they had no intention of honoring. Bait-and-switch pricing, demands for higher payments and forcing consumers to pay significantly higher prices by withholding their possessions were all part of their ordinary business practices. Through this action, we're shutting down both companies and barring these two men from ever again working in the moving industry," Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said.
The corporate charters of both Progressive Movers and ABC Packing Supplies are annulled and vacated, under terms of the Final Judgment by Default.
Progressive Movers, based in Paterson, is also known as Modern One Versatile Expert Relocation Services; M.O.V.E.R.S., Inc; and Modern M.O.V.E.R.S., Inc. ABC Packing Supplies, based in Lodi, is also known as State Wide Box Company, Inc. Owner/operator Yevgeniy Piskun is also known as Yevgeniy Peskun; Eugene Pisklin; Eugene Peskun; Eugene Peskin; Sam Pisktin; Sam Peskun and Sam Peskin.
Based on consumer complaints, the State in its lawsuit alleged that the defendants contracted with consumers for moves estimated at a few hundred dollars but afterwards demanded total payments that were triple, even quadruple, of the agreed-upon price.
"Moving companies remain a priority for our investigators. The Division has staged several undercover investigations of suspected unlicensed movers who post on online message boards and elsewhere, and we intend to continue these proactive enforcement actions," said Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs.
The Division's Regulated Business Section licenses moving companies that conduct intrastate moves within New Jersey. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has jurisdiction of interstate moves.
Consumers who want to learn more about their rights, and what to look for, when hiring a moving company can find information on the Division's Public Movers & Warehousemen Consumer Brief. A searchable database listing all licensed Public Movers also is available online.
Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Kant in the Division of Law's Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section represented the State in this action. Investigator Vincent Buonanno in the Division of Consumer Affairs' Regulated Business Section conducted the investigation.
Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.
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