SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Authorities were looking for the owner of a San Jose moving company, his wife and three others after prosecutors on Monday said hundreds of customers were overcharged and told their furniture and other belongings would be held in storage unless they paid the higher fees.
During a four-year investigation by local and federal authorities, investigators found hundreds of customers who Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Martha Donohoe said were "hooked" by the lowball quotes offered by a company that operated under multiple names, including ASAP Relocations Inc.
Once the moves were in progress, the customers were told their furniture and other belongings would be taken to storage unless they paid the higher bills that were jacked up by additional fees for packing and packaging supplies, Donohoe said.
The owner of the companies, Roni Hayon, 36, and his wife and office manager, Adii Therese Karter, 32, used the money to fund a "luxury lifestyle," including buying his and hers Mercedes-Benz automobiles, Donohoe said.
Hanyon, Karter and three former employees were facing warrants for their arrest, Donohoe said. It was believed they fled the area.
Three other former employees of the company were in court Monday, where they pleaded not guilty to grand theft and other charges.
Attempts to reach Hayon and Karter through their companies were unsuccessful. The telephone listing for ASAP Relocations was disconnected, while listings for the other names the company operated under — America's Best Movers, Champions Movers, Fast Moving Van Lines Inc., Fast Moves, Quick Quotes for Moving Inc., and Encore Movers — were either disconnected or no listings were available.