Moving rip-off tied to 900 victims, federal agents say there may be many more

TAMPA, Fla. — Federal investigators say there may be thousands of victims tied to a national moving scam that preyed on people here in Tampa and as far north as Michigan.

Now weeks after a dozen federal indictments some of those crushed by these movers’ tactics now have a reason to smile.

We first met Bianca Williams and her fiancé Philip Schafer two weeks ago.

Tampa couple may have fallen victim to elaborate nationwide moving scheme

Everything they own disappeared after the couple paid Flagship Vanlines to move them from Minneapolis to Florida. 

Jenn and Matt Vermette lost everything but the clothes they were wearing after a related company loaded their stuff and vanished. These couples are among an estimated 900 victims around the country believed to have been ripped off by a large scale moving fraud.

Earlier this month a Federal investigation led to indictments against a dozen people, all connected to moving companies in 10 states. But in recent days two bay area families including Williams and Schafer got the call their belongings had been found in warehouses up north.

The dozen indicted stand accused of luring consumers with false reviews and low ball prices they would later double and triple. The Vermettes lost so much they can’t replace back in April. They continue to wait and wonder whether their items will be found.

If you believe you are a victim, please call the victim hotline at 1-800-424-9071 or email hotline@oig.dot.gov.

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