CINCINNATI — A Florida man who owned and operated various moving companies has pleaded guilty to a scheme in which he defrauded more than 1,800 people in the U.S.
Serghei Verlan pleaded guilty on Aug. 23 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to conspiracy in a racketeering enterprise — valued between $1.5 and $3.5 million — to defraud more than 1,800 people in the U.S., a news release stated.
From April 2013 through July 2018, Verlan owned and operated various moving companies that defrauded, extorted and stole from customers who hired the companies to move their household goods, according to the news release.
To obtain customers, Verlan’s companies provided low binding estimates and promised to beat their competitors’ prices, according to the news release. After loading customers’ goods, they increased their price of the move and held the goods hostage until customers paid the inflated prices. Some loads were not delivered at all.
The enterprise also charged customers for moving more cubic feet of household goods than what were actually loaded, according to the news release.
When customers complained, the enterprise would shut down the latest iteration of the moving company and open a new one, falsifying information about the owners’ identities to fraudulently receive operating licenses from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General is conducting this investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
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