Hundreds of moving scam victims desperately search for their belongings

Posted at 7:08 PM, Aug 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 13:38:47-05

Bianca Williams was happy to hear of the major takedown of a nationwide hostage moving scam, but she's apprehensive about what comes next.

When Flagship Van Lines drove off with her and her fiancé's items, they took with them the couple's wedding invitations and Williams' wedding dress.

"And my mom bought my dress. She just worked really hard to afford this dress," said a tearful Williams.

Their wedding is scheduled for September 29.

Williams and Phil Schafer are among hundreds of victims caught up in the roughly five-year scheme.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio announced twelve people had been indicted for their role in a criminal enterprise that defrauded more than 900 people through 14 moving companies in 10 states. Five of the twelve have been arrested.

RELATED: Maryland movers charged, accused of defrauding 900+ customers

Investigators also located seven warehouses filled with customer's items. 

Williams and Schafer are hoping their items are in one of those warehouses, but they don't know how to find out that information.

"If one of the places has our stuff, if we're allowed to see our stuff again, if it's going to be locked up in the criminal trial for however long that takes, we just don't know if we're ever going to see the stuff again," said Schafer.

WMAR-2 News contacted the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General. The agency could not comment on when people will receive their belongings, when they will notify victims if they've found their things, and how they plan to reunite them.

The agency's public affairs office would also not approve our request for an interview with Regional Special Agent-in-Charge Thomas Ullom, who said he was willing to speak with WMAR-2 News' Mallory Sofastaii.

Currently, they are advising victims to contact the consumer fraud hotline at 1-800-424-9071 or email, and to have documentation of their move ready and available for investigators.

To see more of Mallory Sofastaii's extensive reporting on this moving scheme, click here.