A Guilford-based moving company is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation after a dozen people with ties to several different moving companies around the country were indicted for conspiring to defraud customers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Kathleen Thoburn told NBC Connecticut she hired Flagship Van Lines, which is based in Guilford, on June 8, signing a binding estimate for $2,475 and putting down a 25 percent deposit. She said they gave her a two-day window for pick-up.
“They called me the evening of July 10 and they said they would be coming at eight in the morning July 11, so I was able to get my building maintenance manager to open up the freight elevator early for me that morning,” Thoburn explained.
She said the movers packed up her things and told her they would arrive in Albany in about a week. Kathleen said she started calling after a few days for an update and heard nothing.
”They never answered their phone. You always got either one of two people. One guy’s name was Ian and the other one I don’t recall, but it was the same exact voicemail and they said they would get back to you.”
She said when she finally heard from someone after about two weeks, they couldn’t give her any information about her belongings. She then contacted the Guilford Police Department, which is assisting the U.S. Department of Transportation with a criminal investigation.
”The minute I said Flagship Van Lines she said I’m going to have to stop you right there because we’re getting a lot of calls,” Thoburn said.
The Better Business Bureau told NBC Connecticut it has received more than 40 similar complaints concerning Flagship Van Lines in the last two months. The business has an “F” rating on their site.
”After we see a pattern of complaints like this, we do reach out to that place of business, and we have not heard back from them yet,” said Luke Frey with the BBB.
After several failed attempts to contact Flagship Van Lines via telephone and email, NBC Connecticut went to the business, which was closed in the middle of the day.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cincinnati, Ohio said it believes there are more than 900 victims around the country of what they are calling a scheme, which includes:
“After the customers agreed to hire the moving companies, employees of the moving companies would allegedly load the customer’s goods onto the truck and then bump the price of the move…the moving companies would allegedly refuse to give back the household goods until customers paid the inflated prices.”
Thoburn said when the movers arrived for pickup she ended up paying more than the agreed upon price. She said she is trying to stay optimistic but not holding out hope that her things will be delivered.
”The bottom line is things are just things, and they didn’t take your family. They didn’t take your children. They didn’t take your pets, anything very, very special, so if you treat it sort of like a natural disaster, I think that will get people through,” she said.
According to the Connecticut Office of the Secretary of the State, Flagship Van Lines filed a name change to Blessed Movers LLC on July 20.
The BBB is urging people with a similar experience with the company to call the Inspector General’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-424-9071.