Business Fraud: Florida Moving Company Operators Indicted For Alleged $12 Million Scam
On February 18th, 2022, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Matthew Pardi and Ashley Lynn Hars, the owners of a Florida-based moving company, have been indicted on criminal fraud charges. The federal complaint contends that their company engaged in a number of different violations, including allegedly holding consumer belongings for “ransom” payments. Here, our West Palm Beach business & consumer fraud attorney explains what we know about the allegations from the DOJ.
Allegations: Moving Company Held Customer Belongings for “Ransom”
Matthew Pardi and Ashley Lynn Hars owned and operated a business called Proud American Vanlines, LLC, a Florida-based moving company that was previously known as Moving Accounting Department, LLC. According to the allegations raised in the indictment filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the owners of Proud American Vanlines, LLC set up websites with fake customer reviews. They then put fake reviews on legitimate websites, such as Yelp, Google, TripAdvisor, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Once customers were enticed to reach out for information about the cost of moving, they then offered them cut-rate prices. However, Proud American Vanlines, LLC would jack up the rates and the fees at the last second, once the customer had already turned over their belongings. In effect, the company was engaged in a practice of deception and abuse. If the customer failed to pay all of the last-second fees, the company would refuse to deliver their goods.
Major Fraud: $12 Million
The scope of the business and consumer fraud in this case is significant. The DOJ alleges that customers in Florida and other states sustained approximately $12 million in total losses. The two owners of the company are now facing federal criminal fraud charges, including felony charges for wire fraud and felony charges for interstate transportation of property obtained through fraud.
FDUTPA Protects Businesses and Consumers in Florida from Deceptive Practice
Consumers in South Florida should know that they have legal rights and legal options if they have been defrauded by a moving company or any other business. You do not have to wait for state or federal authorities to take action against the fraudsters. Under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA), you can file a lawsuit directly against a defendant engaged in abusive commercial conduct. The FDUTPA allows for the recovery of actual damages in a legal claim.
Get Help From a Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Lawyer in Southeastern Florida
At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our West Palm Beach business & consumer fraud attorney has the specialized legal skills and real world expertise to advise clients in the entire range of FDUTPA claims. If you have any questions about FDUTPA liability, we are available to help. Give us a call now or reach out to us directly online to set up your confidential initial appointment. With a law office in West Palm Beach and another law office in Miami, we represent plaintiffs and defendants in FDUTPA claims.