South Florida Residents Indicted for Nationwide Interstate Moving Fraud Scheme
MIAMI – Yesterday, Avraham Zano, 41, of Hollywood, made his first appearance in federal court to face charges that he and a co-conspirator operated an interstate moving company scam that included inflating the costs of clients’ interstate moves, taking possession of client household belongings, failing to deliver the goods as promised, and abandoning them throughout the nation at undisclosed self-storage facilities, often resulting in the total loss of client property.
A South Florida federal grand jury indicted Zano and Sofein Mlayah, 28, of North Miami Beach on September 15, 2022, charging them with Conspiracy to Commit Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, Wire Fraud, Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, and Failure to Give Up Possession of Household Goods.
According to the allegations of the indictment, Zano owned Zano Moving and Storage, LLC, and acquired jobs through various moving brokers. The brokers would negotiate moving service fees with clients, then subcontract the moving jobs to Zano. With the subcontracts in hand, Zano and his drivers, including Mlayah, traveled to the job locations -- often on dates different from the ones originally scheduled and sometimes late at night -- and loaded the household items to be moved into rental trucks. Zano or Mlayah would tell clients that they had more household items than the moving broker originally estimated. Then, with the items already in the truck, they demanded more money to begin the move – sometimes two to three times more than the original estimate. If the clients refused, they risked losing their deposits and belongings. It is alleged that Zano and Mlayah argued with the victims and coerced them into paying more for their moves. On other occasions, Zano and Mlayah would not start loading the trucks until they received the higher fees or loaded the trucks but never delivered the items, according to the indictment. Most of the victims’ household items have never been recovered.
If convicted, Zano and Mlayah face up to 20 years in prison.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Robert M. DeWitt, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami; and Todd Damiani, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG), Southern Region, made the announcement.
FBI Miami and DOT-OIG investigated this case with assistance from the Sunny Isles Beach Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Anton.
An indictment contains mere allegations and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 22-cr-60200.