NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa and the Division of Consumer Affairs filed a lawsuit on Thursday against two North Jersey moving companies that allegedly engaged in predatory and unconscionable business practices.

The Paterson-based Progressive Movers Inc., the Lodi-based ABC Packing Services Inc. and their principals allegedly enticed consumers with low cost estimates and then held the consumers' belongings hostage while demanding hundreds or thousands of dollars in addition to the original prices.

"The state has no tolerance for unscrupulous movers who hold consumers' property hostage as a form of extortion," Chiesa said. "We are committed to cleaning up the marketplace to ensure a fair and safe environment for anyone seeking to hire a mover - and to protect the interests of the many movers who operate honestly and in compliance with the law."

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Margaret Mary McVeigh issued an order to temporarily shut down the defendants' businesses on Tuesday. The order also requires that the defendants return the property of the consumers without requiring any payment, prohibits them from selling or transferring any assets connected to the lawsuit, and voids any contracts the defendants had to perform future storage or moves.

McVeigh will decide after a June 15 hearing whether the business activities of the defendants should remain shut down pending the outcome of Chiesa's lawsuit.

Chiesa's office received complaints from 87 consumers who alleged they were the victims of the defendants' predatory bait-and-switch tactics along with other violations of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, Public Movers Regulations and Public Movers Licensing Act. The DCA received more consumer complaints against the defendants than any other New Jersey moving company.

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