Fake positive online reviews promoting a purported moving company triggered an action filed by the New York attorney general against the company and its owner.
Goldy Sandhu and his businesses—Pan-American Relocation Services, AAA Moving Services and Mayflower Moving Services—paid for at least 60 fake positive online reviews to dupe consumers into thinking they were working with qualified moving companies, New York AG Barbara Underwood asserted.
Posted on the companies’ websites, the fake reviews were touted as “BY CUSTOMERS JUST LIKE YOU” even though none of them were written by an actual customer, the AG said. Sandhu—who acted as a broker and accepted money from consumers before hiring an actual moving company—dubbed his companies with names similar to reputable business (such as AAA and Mayflower Moving), the AG alleged, and offered a “AAA member discount” despite the fact no affiliation with the American Automobile Association existed.
After being hired, the defendants would perform an Internet search to find an actual moving company and hire movers for the job. The selected movers were often poorly reviewed, disreputable and unlicensed, Underwood said. Consumers did not realize until moving day that their movers were not the five-star-reviewed companies they believed they had hired, the AG alleged, often leaving them with little choice but to use the movers, who often overcharged consumers and broke or lost items.
A state court judge entered an order permanently banning Sandhu from the household goods moving industry. He is prohibited from operating any company dealing directly with consumers for one year and any telemarketing or call center-based business for five years. The order also imposed $65,000 in penalties and costs.
To read the New York AG’s announcement about the case, click here.
Why it matters: “My office has zero tolerance for scammers who attempt to defraud and deceive New York consumers,” Attorney General Underwood said in a statement. “New York moving brokers and carriers must comply with state and federal law or we will hold them to account.” The AG’s office advised consumers to thoroughly vet any moving company they consider hiring—even if the company has many positive online reviews.