On September 25, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued a final judgement as to liability and order of stipulated permanent injunction against Itai Carmel and his company, Ocean Moving & Storage Corp (Ocean Moving). The judgment ordered Carmel and Ocean Moving to pay $175,000 in civil penalties and restitution, as well as $100,000 in legal fees and costs. The ruling responds to civil complaints the Florida Attorney General’s Office filed in December 2018 against seven individuals and their respective companies for deceptive moving practices. Nineteen household goods companies or their affiliated entities were involved in the case.
The complaints alleged that the moving companies deliberately loaded people’s belongings onto trucks, then raised prices and forced customers to pay before releasing the items. Located in Florida’s Broward and Dade Counties, the companies allegedly used false or deceptive advertising to persuade consumers to purchase moving services and claimed highly trained professional or expert movers would do the work. However, untrained laborers regularly performed the moves, often causing damage to, destroying, or stealing the customers’ property. Many customers allegedly received low-price, purportedly binding estimates from the companies.
DOT-OIG and the Consumer Protection Division of the Florida Attorney General’s Office conducted the investigation that led to the Federal civil filing.