A North Carolina owner of a moving and storage company has been sentenced for his role in extorting money out of a customer moving household goods across the country. According to court documents, the scheme involved inflating charges and holding the load ransom.
Mohammad Hamdan, aka Alex Hamdan, was sentenced to six months home confinement and 36 months of supervised release and ordered to pay $7,300 in restitution. Hamdan was also sentenced to time served of 10 days in prison.
Hamdan, owner of Nonstop Moving and Storage, was a contractor with Trusted Moving and Storage of Northern California. The contract included a list of customers moving their belongings and the amount each customer was to pay Hamdan for the move. One job involved moving belongings from San Francisco to Philadelphia for the sum of $1,462.81.
Upon moving the household goods in November 2012, Hamdan demanded that the customer tell the owner of Trusted to pay him approximately $7,500 for an outstanding debt. Hamdan claimed that Trusted was going bankrupt and could not pay him to make deliveries. Hamdan refused to turn over the belongings he had stored in a facility in North Carolina until his demands were met.
The U.S. Department of Transportation intervened and was told by Hamdan that the belongings were safe, but would not be handed over until Trusted paid him $10,000 plus costs. Via text messages between the customer and coconspirator, the burden of the costs was transferred to the customer. The conspirator told the customer that if she did not pay Hamdan the $10,000, the belongings being held would be put up for auction. Hamdan agreed to accept a discounted payment of $9,000.
Hamdan was eventually caught when undercover agents called him posing as the customer’s boyfriend. Undercover agents received the same story and deposited $9,000 into Hamdan’s account on Dec. 14, 2012, to prove extortion. After the payment was received, the customer’s belongings were delivered to her in Philadelphia.
Hamdan was formally charged a year later in December 2013 and pleaded guilty to charges of extortion in November 2014. According to federal court documents, the co-conspirator also pleaded guilty last November and was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution back in February.