New Jersey moving company fraud scheme leader gets 5 years in prison
January 29, 2020
•Land Line Staff
The man who federal prosecutors say was the leader of a conspiracy that extorted hundreds of customers and involved numerous New Jersey moving companies has been sentenced to prison.
Richard Bishara, 43, of Woodland Park, N.J., previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton a charge him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Judge Wigenton imposed the sentence of five years in prison on Jan. 9 in Newark federal court, according to a news release issued by the United States Attorney’s Office.
Bishara also received three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $72,709. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 20 years.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Bishara and his conspirators jointly operated numerous moving companies that quoted customers “low-ball” price estimates for household goods moves and then raised prices on the date of the move after the goods were loaded and the customers were vulnerable.
Through this scheme, Bishara and his conspirators, over a number of years and hundreds of moves, raised final prices for moves above the allowed increase from initial estimates as provided by federal regulations, including increases as high as 400% on the day of the move, according to the court documents. The collective difference between the many estimates and the final balances for the customers’ moves was more than $1.9 million, according to court documents.
Bishara personally owned a number of the moving companies involved, and, as a leader of the conspiracy, controlled certain bank accounts used by the companies.