September 28, 2020
New Jersey Man Sentenced and Ordered To Pay Restitution for Household Goods Moving Fraud
On September 28, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey sentenced Maximo Beras to time served, 3 years’ supervised release, and a $200 special assessment. The following day, Beras was also ordered to pay $75,193 in restitution. The sentencing follows his May 29, 2018, guilty plea to two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He also accepted responsibility for his role in a conspiracy to obtain money from customers of various moving companies through false and fraudulent pretenses.
This investigation was initiated in September 2012 following complaints that a moving company was engaged in a complex scheme to defraud and overcharge its customers. Beras and his co-conspirators provided low-cost estimates but then held the household goods hostage until their customers agreed to pay exorbitant fees. To avoid detection by law enforcement, Beras and the others set up chameleon companies, which appear to be legitimate moving companies but are established to extort customers. Once people complain, the company is shut down and transformed into a new one.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.