PATERSON, NJ - Two moving companies, including one based in Paterson, that purportedly provided low-ball estimates to consumers, and then held furniture and other moved possessions hostage if consumers refused to pay amounts significantly higher than the previously agreed-upon prices, have been assessed $21.2 million in civil penalties, consumer restitution and legal/investigative reimbursements to the state, under a Final Judgment by Default issued in State Superior Court, Passaic County.

Progressive Movers of Paterson and ABC Packing Supplies of Lodi had their corporate charters annulled and vacated under the terms of the final judgment by default.

In its lawsuit, the state alleged that  defendants, Progressive Movers of Paterson, and its owner/operator, Konstantin Egorov, and ABC Packing Supplies of Lodi, owned and operated by Yevgeniy Piskun, must pay $123,532 in consumer restitution to about 70 past customers, under terms of the Final Judgment by Default issued on March 11, 2013. The state will docket the judgment as a state-wide lien, as the defendants do not have the ability at this time to make the court-ordered payments.

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Based on consumer complaints, the state in its lawsuit alleged that the defendants contracted with consumers for moves estimated at a few hundred dollars but afterwards demanded total payments that were triple, even quadruple, of the agreed-upon price   After an  investigation conducted by the Division of Consumer Affairs, the Court found that the defendants committed hundreds of violations of the state’s Public Mover’s Licensing Act and Consumer Fraud Act, and related regulations. Progressive Movers and Egorov also violated terms of a 2010 Consent Order with the Division, resulting in imposition now of a previously suspended civil penalty of $55,000.

“These defendants enticed consumers with low-cost moves that they had no intention of honoring. Bait-and-switch pricing, demands for higher payments and forcing consumers to pay significantly higher prices by withholding their possessions were all part of their ordinary business practices. Through this action, we’re shutting down both companies and barring these two men from ever again working in the moving industry,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said.

“These defendants enticed consumers with low-cost moves that they had no intention of honoring. Bait-and-switch pricing, demands for higher payments and forcing consumers to pay significantly higher prices by withholding their possessions were all part of their ordinary business practices. Through this action, we’re shutting down both companies and barring these two men from ever again working in the moving industry,” Chiesa said.

Progressive Movers, based in Paterson, is also known as Modern One Versatile Expert Relocation Services; M.O.V.E.R.S., Inc; and Modern M.O.V.E.R.S., Inc. ABC Packing Supplies, based in Lodi, is also known as State Wide Box Company, Inc.