Cautionary tale for the military move

  • Published
  • By by Chief of Legal Assistance 1st Lt. Spencer Sare
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
Recently, a highly lucrative scam involving fraudulent moving companies extorted nearly $2 million from numerous victims in the New Jersey area before federal law enforcement brought it to a screeching halt.

The scam usually plays out as follows: a company gives a low ball figure for the cost of a move, contracts with the individual, then shows up on moving day and goes to work loading up the personal and household goods of the victim.

Once loaded, the movers hop in the truck, and drive into the sunset as if they are headed off to the final destination. At this point things take a drastic change for the worse. A company representative approaches the victim and informs them that their move is now going to cost a significantly more than originally projected.

The victim is then told that their goods will not be returned or delivered until the higher fee is paid. This takes an already stressful day and turns it into a nightmare. For members of the military, this potentially creates an even greater predicament depending on the time frame for report no later than dates and other similar factors.

Unfortunately, the military has not been immune to the impact of this recent scam with several members having their household goods held hostage. In those instances their base legal offices were forced to get involved before the service members' belongings were returned.

One of the biggest indicators that a company is fraudulent is the formalities in place regarding their estimate. If a company gives you a binding estimate it must be in writing, and be signed by both parties.

Once it has been signed, this rate is guaranteed and cannot be raised after the company has loaded the person's household goods. If a company tries to raise the rate after loading your goods contact law enforcement immediately.

Always keep in mind that if a deal appears too good to be true it most likely is.

If you have been a victim of a similar scam please reach out to law enforcement and to the base legal office at (406) 731-2878.