May 28, 2020
South Florida Moving Company and Owner Fined Over $1.2 Million for Deceptive Practices
On May 28, 2020, a final civil judgement was entered against Maxx J. Socher and his company Moving Services Accounting and Storage, Inc., which previously operated as Full Service Van Lines, in the U.S District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The default judgment as to a liability and an order for permanent injunction was for a total of $1,296,566, consisting of $300,000 in restitution, $700,000 to the State of Florida Department of Legal Affairs, and $296,566 in Federal penalties. This judgment did not account for the Government’s attorney fees, for which a ruling is still pending.
This judgment was made in response to the December 2018 filing of civil complaints by the Florida Attorney General’s Office against seven individuals and their respective companies—a total of 19 household goods companies or their affiliated entities—for deceptive moving practices. The Federal civil filing was part of a joint household goods investigation aimed at various household goods moving companies. The Florida Attorney General’s Office completed the filings reports in furtherance of Federal civil prosecution.
The complaints alleged that the moving companies deliberately loaded people’s belongings onto a truck, raised prices, and forced customers to pay before releasing the items. The moving companies, located in Broward and Dade counties, allegedly used false or deceptive advertising to induce consumers to purchase moving services. The companies claimed the services would be performed by highly trained professional or expert movers. However, untrained laborers regularly performed the moves, often causing damage to, destroying, or stealing the consumers’ property. Many consumers allegedly received low-price, purportedly binding estimates from the companies.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with the Florida Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division.