Moving Company Owner Scammed and Extorted 260 Customers in New York, New Jersey

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NEWARK, N.J. – The owner of a moving company is going to prison for 22 months after scamming over $540,000 from more than 260 customers during a four year period.

Lior Atiyas (a/k/a “David Cohen”), 44, has pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.  U.S. District Judge Claire C. Cecchi imposed the sentence in Newark federal court.  His co-conspirator, Lola Larios, is scheduled for sentencing on August 9, 2022, before Judge Cecchi.

Court records show that from as early as January 2016 through January 2019, Atiyas devised a scheme to enrich himself and his moving company, which used several names to conceal its true identity, including Premier Relocations LLC, Metro Van Lines Inc., Astoria Motor Van Company, Lyon Moving, and Empire Move.  Atiyas, along with Larios, regularly extorted customers by quoting them “low-ball” price estimates for moving household goods. 

“Once the customers’ goods were loaded onto the moving trucks, Premier’s employees, at the direction of Atiyas or Larios, or Atiyas himself, would drastically raise the price of the move (often two or three times that of the quoted estimate), and then refuse to deliver the goods until the customers paid the increased price,” the Department of Justice said in a statement. ” The aggregate difference between the initial low-ball estimates and the revised inflated amounts charged to victims was approximately $547,525.”

“Atiyas was also convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, for his participation in a scheme whereby he generated fake paystubs and a fake employment confirmation letter in order for an uncharged co-conspirator to obtain Medicaid benefits.  As a result of his role in the health care fraud conspiracy, Atiyas caused the submission of over $40,000 in fraudulent medical claims,” the DOJ added.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Cecchi sentenced Atiyas to three years of supervised release.