A Nassau County moving company owner and a Passaic County woman who worked for him admitted in federal court that they extorted customers out of nearly $550,000 with the old “low-ball” scam.
Lior Atiyas, 42, of Hewlett, Long Island began regularly low-balling estimates to move household goods, then jacking up the price by two to three times once the items were on the trucks, in early 2016, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said Friday.
He then refused to deliver the goods until the customers paid up, Carpenito said.
Atiyas recruited Lola Larios, 37, of Haledon into the scheme when she joined the company two years later, the U.S. attorney said.
The aggregate difference between the initial low-ball estimates and the jacked up amounts charged to victims was $547,525, he said.
Atiyas used several names to conceal the company’s true identity – among them, Premier Relocations LLC, Metro Van Lines Inc., Astoria Motor Van Company, Lyon Moving, and Empire Move, Carpenito said.
He and Larios also directed company employees to participate, the U.S. attorney said.
Atiyas – also known as David Cohen -- pleaded guilty Friday via videoconference to conspiracy to commit both wire fraud and health care fraud.
Larios – also known as “Michelle Jacobs” – pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to commit wire fraud.
Atiyas also admitted participating in a scheme to generate fake paystubs and a bogus employment confirmation letter so an uncharged conspirator could obtain $40,000 in unentitled Medicaid benefits.
U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi scheduled sentencing for Larios and Atiyas for April 1, 2021.
Carpenito credited special agents with the Department of Transportation’s Northeast Regional Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General with the investigation leading to the guilty pleas, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Amore of his Government Fraud Unit in Newark.
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