Nineteen moving crews in New Jersey got hit with citations during what turned out to be an undercover sting by the state’s consumer affairs investigators.
The state Division of Consumer Affairs said 19 moving companies were cited for soliciting interstate moves without a license, a violation of state law. They were assessed a fine of up to $2,500 each.
“Too many consumers have been ripped off by movers who held their furniture and other goods hostage while demanding outrageously inflated prices,” said acting Director Steve Lee in a statement. “Protecting consumers begins with our enforcement of New Jersey’s licensing laws.”
The state’s sting occurred last November after investigators with the state Division of Consumer Affairs posed as consumers seeking to move their belongings. They booked appointments with unlicensed movers who solicited work using online listings, including their own websites, Craiglist and Angie’s List.
When they got to the undercover location the movers were inspected by consumer affairs investigators, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers, New Jersey State Police and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Immigrations agents arrested seven moving company employees who were allegedly in the United States in violation of the law, including three who had been previously convicted of a crime, authorities said.
One from El Salvador had a conviction of sexual abuse against a minor, criminal possession of a loaded firearm and disorderly conduct, authorities said. Another was a MS-13 gang member with a conviction for criminal attempted theft.