Life takes strange twists and turns some times, that separate the fate of two people in ways that are not always controllable by personal will. This past year, after a three year FBI sting, 14 people were indicted in California for their participation in a ring of fraud and extortion, in which a scam moving company, after repeatedly making a low moving cost estimate, drastically raised prices and held the goods of the victims hostage until they got full pay.

Shockingly, the FBI and the Federal Courts in California, are not only targeting the management of the company, they also indicted the sales personnel, the driver of the truck and at least one employee who helped with the loading.

This news story was a wake up call to me because I almost went to work for a moving broker company in Israel a year ago; a company that may have been doing some of the same things the company in California was indicted for. Only I didn’t know it. I was told that my job would involve talking to people on the phone who had called in to get a moving cost estimate. I was to go over all their household items on an inventory list supplied to telephone sales personnel. And once the customer decided to use our services, I was to get a deposit, and from then on out the move would be processed by management. The company didn’t hire me; because they weren’t convinced I would be an enthusiastic sales person. Quite honestly, I probably wouldn’t have fit in anyway. When company management starts ordering me not to return phone calls form complaining customers, and not say this or not to do that, I feel very uncomfortable, and generally ignore them. This willful independence on my part contributed to my being fired from my previous sales job.

I subsequently started my own Internet service company, using my own approach of total customer honesty and satisfaction, and was rewarded when I got a client who owned a New York and Florida Packing Service, which is dedicated to fighting moving scam. In the process of doing SEO work for him, I learned about moving scams, and only then realized how close I had almost come to being hired by a possibly dishonest moving broker company.

About six months later, I ran into my friend, who was still working for the moving broker.We talked for a few minutes, and I asked him about moving scams. He acknowledged that he had heard from some of his customers that they had ended up paying a lot more for their moves than was worked out in the original estimate. He personally felt a little uncomfortable about it, but he had decided to stifle his discomfort, because, after all, we all have to work at something, and the world isn’t perfect.

I truly hope that my friend’s company is more honest than the moving brokers who were indicted in California. But based on what he told me, it did seem like their activities were at least in a continuum with the more serious criminal behavior being prosecuted in California. And it makes me realize that we have to take responsibility for our own life and the consequences of our actions. People don’t want to hear the line “I was just following orders,” today, any more than people wanted to hear it 63 years ago when Nazis were indicted for working in the concentration camps, and made the same claim.

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