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South Florida Moving Company and Its Owner Fined $907K for Deceptive Practices

On September 8, 2021, the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County, Florida, entered a final judgement as to liability and an order of stipulated permanent injunction against #1 Van Lines Inc. (d/b/a Upline Moving & Storage Inc.) and its owner, Daneshia Augustin. The judgement totaled $907,009.40, which included a penalty under Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, as well as $665,000 in civil penalties, an Equitable Consumer Relief penalty of $131,923.81, and $110,085.60 in attorney fees and costs.
 
The ruling was made in response to civil complaints filed in December 2018 by the Florida Attorney General’s Office against 7 individuals and 19 household goods moving companies or their affiliated entities located in Broward and Dade counties. The complaints alleged that the moving companies conducted deceptive moving practices—using false or deceptive advertising practices or offering low-price, purportedly binding estimates to entice customers to purchase their services. The companies then took custody of people’s belongings, raised prices, and forced customers to pay the inflated prices before releasing the goods. The companies also 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.
 
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with the Florida Attorney General’s Office’s Consumer Protection Division.