the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Haledon NJ, A Hewlett, New York, man and a Haledon, New Jersey, woman appeared in federal court today on fraud charges for allegedly extorting customers of their moving company, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Lior Atiyas, 42, a/k/a “David Cohen,” and Lola Larios 36, a/k/a “Michelle Jacobs,” are each charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They both made their initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer in Newark federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From as early as January 2016 through January 2019, Atiyas and Larios conspired to extort customers of their moving company to pay drastically increased fees for moving services once the customers were in a vulnerable state and unable to refuse their demands. Atiyas and Larios carried out the conspiracy by using their moving company, Premier Relocations LLC, and other fraudulently created moving companies, to quote customers “low-ball” price estimates for moving household goods. Once the customers’ goods were loaded onto the moving trucks, Premier employees, at the direction of Atiyas and Larios, would drastically raise the price of the move (often two or three times that of the quoted estimate), and then refuse to deliver the goods until the customers paid the increased price. The aggregate difference between the initial estimates and the revised amounts charged to victims is estimated at more than $400,000.
The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain to the defendants or loss to the victims.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents with the Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Douglas Shoemaker, Northeast Region, with the investigation leading to these charges.
The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.