Federal agency hears complaints about forwarding fraudulent messages

Then I discovered a Facebook group with a complaint forum about her moving company. Steve Larson, 67, an IT professional in upstate New York started the Facebook group after his girlfriend’s 30-year-old daughter had a “horrible” experience with the same engine in May about moving from Portland, Oregon, to Rochester, New York.

Some of the five consumers said the FBI and local police were investigating the cases. The FBI had no comment. The director of the moving company could not be reached for comment. A woman who answered his office phone said none of the consumer belongings — some that had been due for deliveries since April — were missing. “With the pandemic, you know, everything has been very busy. So be patient,” she said. “I have no information about you. We are doing our best. Their things are not missing.”

Lots of red flags

Larson says he went to Portland with his girlfriend, who was paying for her daughter’s move. When the movers failed to call in advance, or arrive within the specified time period, there were frantic calls to the broker because they were not given the name of the mover. Later, at eight in the morning, the engine appeared without an assistant, moving pads, or any equipment along with a tired doll. Larson even helped load the truck. The mover would not accept a cashier’s check that was paid to the broker, so another check had to be obtained from a bank, he says.

Larson says the engine did not provide a detailed inventory of things loaded on the truck, noting that: “The driver said he only had one copy of the waybill. [a moving contract and receipt for your belongings]so I had to take a picture of her.” He says his girlfriend’s daughter is still waiting for her belongings.

Few bad actors, many complaints

A 2012 report by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee said a large number of consumers have complaints about how some moving companies operate. Consumers describe the bait-and-switch scheme – the company agrees to move household goods at one price but significantly increases its fee after the consumer’s property is acquired. The report also stated that in some cases, the moving company will refuse to deliver goods at customers’ new homes unless they pay an exorbitant surcharge, a practice referred to as “hostage holding”.

So where are all the missing things?

Henline has no idea where the missing items are. Larson says his girlfriend’s daughter, likewise, has no idea what her belongings are. However, another consumer AARP interviewed recently heard from the police in Portland, Oregon, where some time ago he filed a missing property report. He says the police indicated that some of his belongings had been found in a storage unit, but that his valuables appeared to be gone. He said he was told his remaining property was about to be auctioned because the rent for the storage unit had not been paid.

Another AARP consumer said she was contacted by police in Renton, Washington, where the suspected stolen goods were recovered from the storage unit. She hopes the stash includes her items.

A Portland investigator investigating the case could not be reached for comment; Renton police declined to comment.

In Ohio, Henline says she is still waiting for her items, and plans to file a claim with her insurance company. Waiting leads to huge losses. She says her dog, Davey, “is the only reason I get out of bed in the mornings these days.”

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