On January 24, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Vladimir Pestereanu pleaded guilty to one count of participating in a racketeering conspiracy related to a moving company enterprise. Pestereanu was a foreman for the enterprise, which allegedly controlled several moving companies and defrauded, extorted, and stole from customers seeking to move household goods.
This was part of a multistate investigation that came to light back in July of 2018 when the United States Department of Justice charged twelve individuals with federal racketeering aimed to defraud unsuspecting customers.
According to records, to obtain customers, the moving companies allegedly provided low binding estimates and promised to beat their competitors’ prices. According to the investigation, the following steps were involved in the alleged scheme: After loading a customer’s goods onto the truck, the company’s employees increased the price of the move, holding the goods hostage until the customer paid the inflated prices. They also charged customers for moving more cubic feet of household goods than they actually loaded and did not deliver some household goods at all.
When customers complained, the enterprise would shut down the latest iteration of the moving company and open a new one, falsifying information about the owners’ identities in order to fraudulently receive operating licenses from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. In all 14 moving companies were named.
The plea agreement states that Pestereanu participated directly in wire fraud and extortion and demanded additional payment from customers based on fraudulently inflated cubic footage. In total, the conspiracy is valued to be between $1.5 million and $3.5 million.