Two Defendants Charged with Stealing or Misusing $20 Million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Benefits
Earlier today, a federal jury in Brooklyn convicted Kristy Mak and Andre Prince of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the sole count of a superseding indictment, in connection with their participation in a fraudulent moving company scheme. The verdict followed a one-week trial before United States Second Circuit Judge Denny Chin sitting by designation. When sentenced, the defendants each face up to 20 years in prison and forfeiture in the amount to be determined by the Court.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the verdict.
“The jury found that these defendants conspired in a despicable scheme to steal from their victims when they were most vulnerable and at the mercy of crooked movers holding their worldly possessions hostage. No person who contracts for moving services should be exploited in this manner,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “Make no mistake, this was not a disagreement over billing, rather the jury found the defendants were part of a cunning and deliberate scheme to defraud customers and were held accountable.”
Mr. Peace expressed his thanks to the Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, and the United States Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General for their outstanding investigative work on the case.
As proven at trial, between at least January 2017 and August 2020, the defendants worked for a number of moving companies controlled by Yakov Moroz, which operated under various names including Great Moving USA, Green Movers, New City Moves, Cross Country Moving and Storage, and Movers Consulting. Mak was a customer service representative for the company and supervised Prince who was a member of the sales team. The defendants lured customers to these movers by posting fake reviews online and by having sales associates offer low-cost transportation of their household goods. After a contract was signed and, in some cases, after the customer’s belongings loaded on the truck, the movers would spring new expenses on them. If the customer tried contacting the sales associate about the surprise fees, that person was unreachable, and the customers were faced with the drivers threatening to hold their goods hostage unless they paid additional fees which were sometimes double or triple the original estimated cost. In a Slack message conversation with an uncharged co-conspirator about revising orders to squeeze more money from customers, Mak stated they will “f*ck [customers] onsite.” In another Slack conversation, Prince reacted to two memes sent to him from another sales person depicting their scheme to cut off contact with the customer on the day of the move, stating: “[rolling on the floor laughing emoji] that is so accurate”].
Moroz, the president of Great Movers Inc. and its successor company, New City Movers, absconded earlier this year while on pre-trial release and is currently a fugitive. As a result of the fraudulent scheme, the defendants, together with others, wrongfully obtained more than $3 million from over 800 victims.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Arun Bodapati and Elias Laris are in charge of the prosecution with the assistance of Paralegal Specialist Stephanie Heyward.
ANDRE PRINCE (also known as “Allen Parks” and “Aaron”)
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 20-CR-342 (DC)
Danielle Blustein Hass
U.S. Attorney's Office