January 9, 2020
New Jersey Moving Company Owner Sentenced to 60 Months in Prison
On January 9, 2020, Richard Bishara was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Newark, New Jersey, to 60 months’ incarceration, 3 years’ supervised release, $72,709.05 in restitution, and a $100 special assessment. On November 14, 2019, he pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in relation to his role in a household goods moving fraud scheme.
The information alleged that Bishara and his co-conspirators jointly controlled and operated a number of New Jersey-based moving companies (target companies). The target companies were separate legal entities, but shared bank accounts, post office boxes, employees, and an office space. The co-conspirators would quote customers “low ball” price estimates for moving household goods, and then raise prices after the goods were loaded on trucks and the customers were in vulnerable positions. Between 2013 and 2015, the target companies handled hundreds of moves, raising their final prices above the maximum amount allowed by Federal regulations. To avoid detection by law enforcement, Bishara and his co-conspirators created various moving companies and registered them with fictitious owner names and addresses. When customers complained about one target company, the co-conspirators would shut it down and create a new one.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.