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Leader of nationwide moving scam sentenced to 78 months in prison

Defrauded 1,000+ customers out of nearly $2.5M
Andrey Shuklin
Posted at 9:08 AM, May 12, 2022

BALTIMORE — The leader of a nationwide moving scam that defrauded more than a thousand customers of nearly $2.5 million was sentenced to 78 months in prison this week.

Andrey Shuklin, along with 11 other people, were federally indicted in July 2018 for operating a criminal moving enterprise spanning 5 years and a dozen different companies.

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

In 2017, WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii exposed the web of rogue movers and how they were connected through various business filings.

READ MORE: Unlicensed moving company mimics name of reputable Maryland business

Shuklin will receive credit for time already served, leaving a little over 18 months on his prison sentence. And he was recommended to be moved to a facility in Miami, Fla., where he’s from, according to the sentencing document.

It’s unclear if or when victims will receive any compensation. The sentencing document lists restitution as “TBD.”

**UPDATE May 15, 2022** WMAR-2 News contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Ohio for more information on restitution for victims. A spokeswoman sent a copy of the Government's motion to amend the court's restitution procedures for this case and continue restitution determination.

The motion, filed in January, asked the Court to amend the procedure and to defer any restitution order until the last defendant is sentenced. Of the 12 defendants, 7 have plead guilty (Defendants Iakovlev, Pestereanu, Nezat, Quincoces, Martin, Kariaka, and Shuklin) the government is in plea negotiations with Defendant Kalonov, and Defendant Verlan is scheduled for trial in October 2022.

In the meantime, victims are encouraged to submit restitution requests with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

And according to a more recent motion for forfeiture, investigators were unable to recover the nearly $2.5 million Shuklin gained in the scheme and discovered he has limited assets and substantial debt. They did request the forfeiture of his personal property near Miami.

“You’re never going to get that time back, the stress,” said Lyndi Hays, who hired Flagship Van Lines to move her belongings in June of 2018. “There’s no fixing it. That pain is there but to see him spend more time in jail and having to recoup any financial loss, that would be amazing.”

Hays checked that the company was licensed and received several estimates.

“We did a ton of research and we did not go with the cheapest company, they had thousands of reviews online that looked legitimate,” Hays said. “They were scheduled to drop our stuff off to us a week after we arrived. That day came and went as it did for so many people.”

The company stopped responding to Hays’ phone calls. A few months after the move, she heard from the FBI.

“In October, we got a phone call saying that they’ve located our stuff in a warehouse in Guilford, Connecticut,” said Hays.

Ruthie Barnes and her husband had a very similar experience with Presidential Moving Services when they moved from New Hampshire to Colorado in November 2017.

“We slept on the floor for the full time. We had a blow-up mattress because you don't want to buy furniture if you already have furniture,” said Barnes.

Barnes and her husband found the moving company off of a military movers list.

“The crazy part is we got our stuff after 8 months and then 4 months later, we ended up rotating to another base, so we got our stuff just in time. We didn't even unpack it,” said Barnes.

When the U.S. Department of Transportation would shut down one company, Shuklin and the enterprise would open another. The enterprise changed the names and locations of the businesses, which were based in Maryland, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, California, Connecticut, Colorado and Missouri, and carried on until July of 2018.

Shuklin awaited trial for several years then pleaded guilty in January of 2021.

READ MORE: Leader of nationwide moving scam pleads guilty to defrauding customers

Shuklin’s attorney wrote in the sentencing memorandum that he “was involved and is deserving of significant punishment,” but less culpable than some of the other defendants in providing misleading moving estimates and physically moving customer’s belongings.

The government argued he was in charge from the beginning to its takedown and enjoyed the financial spoils of the complex fraud. He and his partner, Serghei Verlan, benefitted handsomely while thousands of victims suffered irreparable harm.

“Well over $8,000 some dollars is what we lost,” Barnes said. “I lost my mom and my father. And they have my stuff that's sentimental to me. I'll never be able to get that stuff back.”

Barnes is still missing 25 boxes that were taken in the move.

Moving tips
When hiring a moving company, always 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. And 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.