Pan-American Relocation Services, AAA Moving Services, and Mayflower Moving Services Illegally Operated Fraudulent Schemes and Paid for Fake Positive Online Reviews.
New York, NY - November 2, 2018 - Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced a court order against Goldy Sandhu and his businesses, Pan-American Relocation Services, Inc., AAA Moving Services, Inc., and Mayflower Moving Services, Inc., for illegally operating an online household goods moving broker company and paying for fake positive online reviews. The order permanently bans Sandhu from operating a household goods moving broker or carrier business, requires that all three businesses be dissolved, and imposes up to $65,000 in penalties and costs. Sandhu has admitted to all of the Attorney General’s allegations.
“My office has zero tolerance for scammers who attempt to defraud and deceive New York consumers,” said Attorney General Underwood. “New York moving brokers and carriers must comply with state and federal law or we will hold them to account.”
Goldy Sandhu paid for at least 60 fake positive online reviews of his businesses to make consumers believe they were dealing with qualified moving companies. Sandhu posted these reviews on his companies’ websites under the heading, “CHECK OUT OUR REVIEWS POSTED BY CUSTOMERS JUST LIKE YOU,” when in fact none of the reviews were made by actual customers. He also attempted to deceive consumers by naming his companies similarly to reputable businesses such as AAA and Mayflower Moving, even offering consumers a “AAA member discount” although his company had no affiliation with the American Automobile Association.
Sandhu and his companies operated their fraudulent scheme by contacting consumers interested in hiring movers for their household goods and deceiving consumers into believing that they were speaking with an actual moving company. In reality, Sandhu and his companies were merely a broker, and the deposit money they asked consumers to pay to reserve their move was a broker fee. Once a consumer paid, Sandhu and his companies would perform an online search to find an actual moving company in the area and hire them to perform the job. The movers selected by Sandhu’s companies were often poorly reviewed, disreputable, and unlicensed; several had their licenses to operate as movers revoked by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
On moving day, consumers realized that their movers were from a company they had never heard of, instead of the five-star reviewed company they thought they had hired. The movers selected by Sandhu and his companies often demanded payments far in excess of the binding quotes consumers had agreed to. Many consumers, who had a deadline to leave their residence and needed their entire household to be moved interstate, had little choice but to agree to these extortionate demands. In addition to being overcharged, consumers’ goods were frequently broken and lost by the movers. When consumers contacted Sandhu and his companies to complain, Sandhu routinely attempted to evade liability by stating that they were merely brokers and any complaints should be directed to the company that actually performed the move.
In addition to their deceptive advertising and fraudulent conduct, Sandhu and his companies violated federal statutory requirements by providing estimates for transporting household goods without having broker-carrier agreements in place.
The court order permanently bans Sandhu from the household goods moving industry; bans Sandhu from operating any company dealing directly with consumers for one year and any telemarketing or call center based business for five years; and imposes reporting and compliance requirements, including a requirement to report any change of employment and any new businesses established. The defendants are also required to pay up to $65,000 in penalties and costs.
Consumers are advised to thoroughly vet any moving company they are considering hiring, even if the company has many positive online reviews. Consumers can learn more about steps to take when selecting a mover – including how to verify whether a household goods carrier or broker is licensed – by visiting the Attorney General’s website at https://ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/hiring-a-moving-company.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Christopher L. Boyd, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Buffalo Regional Office Michael J. Russo, with the assistance of Senior Consumer Frauds Representative Karen Davis. The Buffalo Regional Office is part of the Division of Regional Offices, which is led by Acting Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Gary Brown.