Four unlicensed moving companies from Bergen County and two from Passaic County were snagged in a state-led undercover sting that cost them $2,500 each, authorities announced Monday.
Over the course of four days in April, investigators from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs posed as people planning to move from an upscale neighborhood in Montvale in what was dubbed “Operation Mother’s Attic,” state Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.
“The investigators found various unlicensed moving companies advertising online and hired them for their ‘move’,” Grewal said.
“The movers drove to Montville, expecting to find a luxury home full of items to load,” the attorney general said, “and were instead met by a team of investigators, who issued them [Notices of Violation] for operating without licenses.
Also awaiting the movers were members of the State Police’s Mobile Safety Freight Unit, who conducted vehicle safety inspections on their trucks, and members of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”), who checked for verification that out-of-state movers were registered with the FMCSA to engage in interstate operations, he said.
The State Police’s Mobile Safety Freight Unit’s inspections found 29 motor vehicle violations, five of them serious enough to put the vehicles out of service, Grewal said.
Three drivers were prohibited from driving trucks away from the scene because of motor vehicle violations, including not having a valid driver’s license or not having a proper license, he added.
Two people were placed under arrest for outstanding warrants, and one person was arrested for carrying a small amount of pot, the attorney general said.
Altogether, 29 unlicensed moving companies were cited, authorities said. One of them -- Go To Moving & Storage of Staten Island – was caught in a similar sting two years ago. As a second-time offender, it was fined $5,000.
The others included:
- WE MOVE YOU of Maywood;
- ROUND CITY MOVING of Garfield;
- MOVING GOOD of Little Ferry;
- I.D. NOBLE MOVERS a/k/a NOBLE ID MOVERS of Hackensack;
- H & D TRANSPORTATION of Clifton;
- AFFORDABLE & ASSERTIVE MOVING & STORAGE of Pompton Lakes.
“An unlicensed moving company can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare,” Grewal said. “They’ve been known to hold truckloads of property hostage until the customer pays an extortionate fee.
“And these unlicensed movers often don’t carry adequate insurance, creating the risk that homeowners will be left high and dry if their property is seriously damaged during the move.”
State law requires all movers whose individual jobs both begin and end in New Jersey be licensed by the Division of Consumer Affairs.
They also must:
- Maintain insurance for cargo liability, workers' compensation insurance, and bodily injury and property damage;
- Provide the DCA with proof of vehicle registration and insurance coverage;
- Include the mover’s license number on the outside of the vehicle;
- Give customers a written estimate of the costs of the move.
Each mover cited by the state has the option of seeking mitigation or requesting an administrative hearing to contest the violation and civil penalty.
“The $2,500 civil penalty for unlicensed operation will be reduced to $1,250 for any mover that applies for licensure with the
Division within 30 days of receiving the [Notice of Violation],” Grewal said.
There are roughly 320 licensed public movers in New Jersey, he noted.
Those cited for operating without a license are:
• ½ PRICE MOVERS, Staten Island;
• ALPHA MOVNG SERVICES , Highland Lakes;
• AFFORDABLE & ASSERTIVE MOVING & STORAGE, Pompton Lakes;
• AVELAR TRUCKING, Landing;
• BIN IT NJ, North Bergen;
• CENTURION MOVERS, Willow Grove, PA;
• CONSIDER IT DONE, Toms River;
• CRUZ MOVES, Cinnaminson;
• ENTERPRISE VAN LINES, Congers, NY;
• GDK LOGISTICS a/k/a GDK INTERNATIONAL, Fairfield;
• H & D TRANSPORTATION, Clifton;
• HELPING HANDS MOVING, Newark;
• I.D. NOBLE MOVERS a/k/a NOBLE ID MOVERS, Hackensack;
• IMPERIAL MOVING & STORAGE a/k/a LION’S DEN ENTERPRISES, a/k/a INSIGNIA MOVING, New York, NY;
• J & L MOVING, Hillside;
• LITE MOVING, Franklin Square;
• MOVING GOOD, Little Ferry;
• MOVING HERO, Rahway;
• OLD COUNTRY VAN LINES, East Newark;
• PRINCETON MOVERS a/k/a GREAT EASTERN MOVERS, Brooklyn;
• RENT A HELPING HAND, Pennington;
• MUNDANZAS, Dover;
• ROADWAY MOVING, Elizabeth;
• ROUND CITY MOVING, Garfield;
• ROSIE’S MASTER MOVERS, Cherry Hill;
• TB MOVING a/k/a TB MOVING & STORAGE, Brooklyn;
• WE MOVE YOU, Maywood;
• BIG MEN IN TRUCKS, Sloatsburg, NY.
Also as a result of this year’s “Operation Mother’s Attic,” the Division issued warning letters to three licensed public movers for alleged advertising violations:
• ALL PRO MOVING, of Hawthorne, was advertising as NJ LOCAL MOVING and ONE & ONLY MOVING without being licensed to operate under those names;
• ADMIRAL VAN LINES, of Bayonne, was advertising as HOBOKEN MOVERS without being licensed to operate under that name;
• DIRECT MOVERS, of Union City, did not include its license number in its advertisement.
Advice for Consumers:
Before hiring a mover, review the tips available from the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. They include:
• Call the Division of Consumer Affairs at (973) 504-6422 to verify the license status of any mover you consider hiring, and to ask whether consumer complaints have been submitted against the mover;
• Obtain a written estimate from the mover you select. The cost can be estimated on an hourly rate, by weight and miles traveled, or by cubic measurement;
• Never pack jewelry, money, or valuable documents with your goods to be moved. The mover is not responsible for items of extraordinary value;
• Check your goods as they are being delivered. If any are lost or damaged, notify the mover immediately. A damage claim can be filed up to 90 days after the move date;
• Unless you purchase additional coverage, the mover is required to compensate you only up to $1 per pound, per article, for damages.
Chief Investigator Edward George, Supervising Investigator Murat Botas, and Investigators Vincent Buonanno, Roger Hines, Luis Zuniga and Oscar Mejia of the state Division of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection conducted the investigation, Grewal said.
Deputy Attorneys General Eric Boden, Robert Holup and Chanel Van Dyke of the Division of Law represented the state, he said.
Consumers who believe they've been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file a complaint by visiting the State Division of Consumer Affairs "File a Complaint" web page or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within NJ) or (973)-504-6200.
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