Perpetrators who were responsible for an elaborate moving-scam that saw them stealing furniture and belongings from individuals across multiple states got their first taste of justice recently, with one suspect having been indicted and jailed in Ohio as the investigation continues to unfold. A federal grand jury has already charged a total of 12 people in an elaborate racketeering enterprise that defrauded a number of individuals by stealing their belongings after posing as a legitimate moving company.
Over 900 victims of the elaborate scam have already been identified, all of them having fallen prey to a number of affiliated moving companies that went by a number of bogus names, one of the most popular being “Flagship Van Lines.” The co-conspirators in the case have all been charged with defrauding the victims in question, as they initially promised a cheap price to move their goods only to demand a higher rate once their belongings had been loaded into the company’s moving trucks.
In some cases, the individuals deliberately stole personal belongings from customers when they didn’t agree to the racket.
From at least April 2013 through July 2018 the co-conspirators enriched themselves at cost to their victims, with the racketeering also violating a number of interstate transit laws that don’t permit companies to extort customers across state lines.
Those who have been arrested thus far are from Florida and North Carolina, although many of the high-profile victims were from Ohio, where one of the suspects is being held in a county jail.
“The arrests and actions taken today stemming from a criminal investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG) demonstrate our commitment to detecting and prosecuting fraudulent household goods movers who take advantage of unsuspecting customers by holding their personal belongings hostage for ransom,” Thomas J. Ullom, DOT-OIG Regional Special Agent-in-charge, told a local affiliate of CBS News.
Many of the victims of the scam have found solidarity online through a Facebook group called “Flagship Van Lines Buyer Beware,” which they served as a warning to at least some of the public before the perpetrators were brought to justice.
Homeowners and those looking to hire the service of movers such as Straya Removals, should educate themselves on moving scams by familiarizing themselves with common tactics and warnings provided by such organizations as the Better Business Bureau.