NEWARK, N.J. – A Clifton, New Jersey, man admitted today to owning and operating a variety of household goods moving companies in New Jersey that systematically extorted hundreds of customers, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Rami Zubidat, 31, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton in Newark federal court to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Zubidat and his co-conspirators jointly operated numerous moving companies by quoting customers “low-ball” price estimates for household goods moves and then raising prices on the date of the move after the goods were loaded and the customers in vulnerable positions. Through this scheme, Zubidat and his co-conspirators consistently, over a number of years and hundreds of moves, raised final prices for moves above the allowed increase from initial estimates as provided by federal regulations, including increases as high as 400 percent on the day of the move. The collective difference between the many estimates and the final balances for the customers’ moves was over a million dollars. Zubidat personally owned a number of the moving companies involved.
The conspiracy to commit wire fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Zubidat has been in custody on this charge since August 2018. Sentencing is scheduled for September 19, 2019.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito credited special agents of the Department of Transportation-Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Douglas Shoemaker, Northeast Region; postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James Buthorn, Newark Division; and special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Angel Melendez, New York Field Office, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Macurdy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Stephen Turano, Esq., Newark, New Jersey
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