FMCSA Embarks on New Effort to Catch Fraudulent Movers

Agency’s Spring Investigation Results in 60 Enforcement Actions
moving truck
Some movers and brokers quote initial low-cost moves, only to as much as double the cost after the goods have been loaded on a truck. (Liudmila Chernetska/Getty Images)

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration this spring conducted more than 100 separate investigations into household goods moving fraud, and is now proceeding with 60 enforcement actions against companies and brokers across 16 states with the threat of revocation of operating authority and civil penalties for some.

Now, the agency is gearing up for a second phase of an effort it’s calling Operation Protect Your Move to weed out moving fraud in the transportation sector.

In an interview with Transport Topics, FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson said these efforts are a response to a significant uptick in the number of consumer goods moving fraud complaints.

“In 2022, we received more than 7,500 complaints against moving companies and brokers, which was more than double the complaints we received back in 2015,” Hutcheson said. “We felt it was important to bring more attention to the issue to protect consumers.”

Toward that end, FMCSA has formed an internal technical advisory group to help guide future efforts.

“The agency is improving training programs for investigators, hiring additional personnel, and expanding its consumer education and outreach footprint, including a digital toolkit with updated videos, checklists and other useful information to help individuals prepare for an interstate move and spot red flags before it’s too late,” the agency said in a statement.

Also, FMCSA established the Household Goods State Enforcement Partnership Program to maximize the impact of collective efforts.

“Through this program, participating state agencies have access to FMCSA enforcement databases, free training on federal regulations and laws, and will participate with FMCSA on joint investigations to support increased enforcement actions,” the statement said.

Eleven state agencies have signed on, including the attorneys general offices for Arizona, Arkansas, Florida and Texas. Four additional state partners are expected by the end of summer, the agency said.

Ryan Bowley


“It’s definitely been something that has popped up on FMCSA’s radar screen,” said Ryan Bowley, executive director of American Trucking AssociationsMoving & Storage Conference. “We as a conference have also really voiced to the agency’s leadership that this is an important priority for our members.”

The investigation covers both movers and brokers that purport to connect consumers to local movers, but instead facilitate fraud by promoting scams that include quoting initial low-cost moves, only to as much as double the cost after the goods have been loaded on a truck.

“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Bowley said. “The unfortunate thing we see is that [movers’] money frauds are less and less isolated cases, and it’s become multiple states, multiple companies and individuals actually moving on to wire fraud and racketeering.”

The frauds happen in many different ways, Hutcheson said, and not only cause financial hits to consumers, but also can be very emotional.

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“We are very pleased with our effort, but we know there is even more to do,” Hutcheson said. “We have augmented our staff and we’ve also retrained some of our staff to be able to address this. Our work will continue and I do anticipate that by year’s end we will be reporting significantly more investigations and enforcement cases.”

In February, Bill Lovejoy, chairman of ATA’s Moving & Storage Conference and owner of San Diego-based Republic Moving and Storage, said one of his more urgent issues would be to fight fraud in the industry, which he calls the “wild west.”

Scammers use the internet to set up phony websites and issue quotes, then raise the cost, while holding customer goods hostage, Lovejoy said. “We want money from FMCSA for enforcement and to continue to simplify the industry. We haven’t made a lot of progress on that.”