men who operated five Brooklyn, NY, moving companies were ordered
by a U.S. District Court judge in Brooklyn to spend more than 13
years in prison and pay more than $1.4 million in fines and restitution
for a scheme that attempted to extort money from unsuspecting customers.
Damti, the owner of Starving Students Moving and Storage, On-Time
Van Lines and Newstart Moving, was fined $1 million for his lead
role in the scheme. Damti and Ofer Yosef, president of On-Time Van
Lines, were each ordered to serve 12 years and 7 months in prison
and pay $437,753 in restitution. Yosef was also fined $10,000. Shlomo
Hababa, president of Newstart Moving, was sentenced to six months
in prison and ordered to pay $776 in restitution.
men were convicted by a jury following a six-week trial in connection
with a scheme to lure customers with artificially low estimates
and then later hold their household goods hostage until large additional
payments were made. It is estimated the men extorted at least $437,000
from more than 100 victims.
and Yosef were found guilty of criminal conspiracy, extortion, mail
fraud and making false statements. Hababa was convicted of wire
fraud. The case, investigated by the DOT Office of the Inspector
General and the FBI with assistance from FMCSA, is part of a national
OIG investigation into household goods moving fraud.