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Widespread moving scams prompt police action

Moving company scams have resulted in legislation and police action.

Moving company scams have resulted in legislation and police action.

The proliferation of moving company scams has prompted action on the part of legislators and law enforcement agencies, USA Today recently reported.

Better Business Bureau spokesperson Sheila Adkins told the news source her agency received 8,900 complaints against movers in 2010, up 5 percent from 2009. Among the 2010 complaints, 285 were regarding online moving brokers, who facilitate deals between consumers and moving companies.

Consumers are reporting situations in which movers give misleading or fake estimates, and in which companies hold people's possessions hostage until they pay exorbitant ransoms, according to USA Today. In response to these scams, Maryland recently passed legislation making it illegal for movers to charge more than 25 percent in excess of an estimate, the paper reports.

USA Today also reports recent law enforcement operations in Illinois have resulted in over 300 citations for companies operating without proper licenses. New Jersey and California have also launched police actions against scammers.

In June, KABC-TV Los Angeles reported the story of Laura Nydam, a woman whose belongings were held for a $3,000 ransom by the moving company she hired to relocate her from North Carolina to Orange County, California. According to KABC-TV, it's difficult for police to intervene in cases like Nydam's because criminals often work remotely from undisclosed locations, employing third-party movers who are not in on the scheme.