Bizarre moving scam leaves Metro Detroit residents without their possessions

Federal investigators looking into scam

DETROIT - A bizarre moving scam is leaving some Metro Detroit residents without their possessions.

The scam is getting the attention of federal investigators. Victims told Local 4's Help Me Hank that they were duped, and they don't want it to happen to others.

Retired Detroit police Detective Tom Berry is speaking out about the scam, which is affecting hundreds of people in Detroit and around the country. He said victims are left without their personal possessions.

Joann Hamilton said she hired a moving company and never saw the truck, the van or her items again.

"I came here and didn't even have a pair of shoes to change," Hamilton said.

She hired a moving company called Flagship Van Lines, and the company is now at the center of a federal investigation.

Help Me Hank spoke with a man named Tim, a friend of Berry's, on the phone. Tim said he worked in law enforcement for years in Metro Detroit. He hired Flagship to move him from Brooklyn, Michigan, to Naples, Florida.

Tim was quoted a price over the phone and signed a contract. But on the day of the move, the movers tried to change the price from $2,000 to $5,000, which was a major red flag.

Tim paid $2,000 and the truck drove away. He never saw it again. Berry urged him to share his story.

Residents should contact the Better Business Bureau to check the status of moving companies before hiring one.

According to the indictment, the defendants operated and worked through a number of affiliated moving companies. The co-conspirators owned, operated, and worked as employees in the companies. The indictment alleges that they executed schemes between April 2013 through July 2018.

The following companies have been linked to the case:

  • First National Moving and Storage
  • Flagship Van Lines
  • Independent Van Lines
  • JBR Underground
  • National Relocation Solutions
  • National Relocation Van Lines
  • Presidential Moving Services
  • Public Moving and Storage
  • Public Moving Services
  • Smart Relocation Solutions
  • Trident Auto Shipping
  • Unified Van Lines
  • United National Moving and Storage
  • US Relocation Systems

If you believe you are a victim of this fraudulent activity, please call the victim hotline at 1-800-424-9071 or email hotline@oig.dot.gov. You can also visit this link to report fraud.

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