A Moving Story – By Brian Joseph
Crooked Movers Victimize Consumers and Usually Get Away With It
Gwen Caplan’s nightmare began with a Yelp search.
It was the summer of 2012 and the middle-aged mother of two was looking for someone to move her and her kids from San Rafael, Calif., to Glendale, Ariz. Money was tight, so Caplan scoured the web for an affordable but reputable moving company.
Her search unearthed several moving companies. One was called America’s Best Movers. It had terrible reviews online. “I said to myself, ‘It’s a good thing I used Yelp. I’m not going to use these people,’ ” Caplan would later tell a criminal grand jury.
Eventually, she found a company in San Jose called Encore Moving, which advertised that it had been in business for 10 years and had an A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau. Caplan said she could find only one review of the company, and it wasn’t critical. She decided to ask for a quote.
Little did Caplan know, Encore was lying. Encore was a new entity, established just that year as an alternate business name for ASAP Relocations, a notorious San Jose moving company that once had an F rating from the Better Business Bureau. Prosecutors would later surmise that ASAP’s owner, an Israeli national with a fondness for gambling and expensive cars, established the Encore name as a means of escaping ASAP’s poor reputation.
In fact, Encore wasn’t ASAP’s only alternate business name. It also went by the name America’s Best Movers.