Brooklyn movers held belongings hostage until customers paid fees: prosecutors

Maya Rajamani
August 05, 2020 - 5:14 pm
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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- The head of a Brooklyn moving company and an employee have been arrested and charged with fraud for holding dozens of customers’ belongings hostage until they paid inflated moving fees, prosecutors said Wednesday. 

Great Movers Inc. president Yakov Moroz, 39, of Brooklyn, and employee Tal Ohana, 37, of Queens, were arrested and charged with wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York said in a release. 

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Prosecutors say Moroz and Ohana operated Great Movers Inc. — which operated through the website GreatMovingUSA.com —  its successor, New City Movers, and several other moving companies. Customers who enlisted the companies to help with their moves would receive an estimate prior to moving day, according to prosecutors. 

When moving day rolled around, however, Moroz and Ohana would ask them to pay additional fees — some of which exceeded the estimates by more than 10 percent — and refuse to return their belongings if they didn’t, prosecutors allege. 

In some cases, the pair threatened to sell or auction the belongings if the customers refused to pay the fees, according to prosecutors. Some customers allegedly ended up paying the fees just to get their belongings back.

“As alleged, Moroz and Ohana victimized their customers by holding their belongings hostage until the inflated fees were paid,” Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said in a statement. “This office will hold accountable anyone who seeks to target the vulnerable in an effort to profit from predatory schemes.” 

Moroz and Ohana could face up to 30 years in prison if they are convicted, the release said. Attorney information for the two wasn’t immediately available Wednesday.