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Leader in multi-million dollar nationwide moving scam heads to prison

Many of the victims may not get restitution for their losses
Moving Scam Losses
Posted at 5:24 AM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 18:33:12-04

TAMPA, Fla.  — A key player connected to a web of 13 rogue companies operating across the country has been sentenced to 78 months in prison. Federal prosecutors say Andrey Shuklin, from Miami, and 11 others ran the scheme for five years and cost consumers over $2.4 million.

The scam defrauded more than 1,000 customers, some right here in the Tampa Bay area.

The I-Team first exposed the scheme in 2017 and spoke with multiple victims including Crickett and Sheri Estrada. The couple hired one of these movers, Unified Van Lines, in 2018 to ship everything they owned from San Diego to their new home in Apollo Beach but Unified never delivered their belongings.

“It was devastating,” said Sheri.

Federal court documents laid out the case stating, "Defendants conspired to participate in the moving enterprise by...falsely inflating cubic footage of household goods, extorting customers into paying more for moves then holding goods hostage when the extortive price was not paid.."

The Estrada’s were among the lucky ones. Two months after they moved to Florida, a tip led them to a storage unit back in San Diego where they recovered much of what was lost. Cricket and his Dad flew to San Diego, rented a truck, and drove it back to Florida.

“These are family heirlooms; these are things that mean everything to our heart,” Sheri said.

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Of the 12 defendants, seven have pled guilty. Federal prosecutors said Shuklin and his partner, Serghei Verlan, masterminded the criminal enterprise that, “...profited from the exploitation and manipulation of thousands of victims."

Verlan is scheduled for trial in October. With credit for time served Shuklin will get out in a year and a half. Crickett Estrada said he’s disappointed.

“That's not even a slap on the wrist in my opinion,” Estrada said.

Federal investigators were not able to recover any of the $2.4 million in losses but have ordered the seizure of Shuklin's limited assets near Miami. Victims can submit restitution requests with the U.S. Attorney's Office here.

When hiring a moving company, remember:

  • Check the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Registered Moving Database as well as the number of complaints.
  • Get several in-person estimates.
  • Pay with a credit card.
  • If the company requires a deposit, it should never be more than a few hundred dollars.

Click here to review more red flags when moving and to better understand your rights when hiring a mover.