Better Business Bureau, customers issue warnings about Guilford-based moving company
The Connecticut Better Business Bureau is cautioning consumers about doing business with the Guilford-based moving company Flagship Van Lines LLC, noting it has received more than 40 complaints about the firm since June.
According to the Connecticut Secretary of State’s Online Filing System, Flagship Van Lines changed its name to Blessed Movers LLC on July 20. It has the same agent’s name, Sergiu Curecheru, and address, 1 Shoreline Dr., listed as Flagship Van Lines.
It is not to be confused with Blessed Movers LLC in Bradenton, Florida, which has had its name registered since June of 2017 and has no complaints filed with BBB.
Flagship Van Lines has been implicated in a racketeering scheme.
On Tuesday, the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio announced in a news release that a federal grand jury has charged 12 people with “conspiring in a racketeering enterprise to defraud individuals through their moving companies located throughout the United States, including in Florida, Ohio, Maryland, North Carolina, Illinois, Texas, California, Connecticut, Colorado and Missouri.”
The indictment listed 14 companies the defendants operated and worked through, including Flagship Van Lines.
The others are First National Moving and Storage, Independent Van Lines, JBR Underground, National Relocation Van Lines, National Relocation Solutions, Presidential Moving Services, Public Moving and Storage, Public Moving Services, Smart Relocation Solutions, Trident Auto Shipping, Unified Van Lanes, United National Moving and Storage, and US Relocation Systems.
Flagship Van Lines holds an “F” rating on BBB, and customer complaints come from all over the country. The Day left messages with two phone numbers and two emails listed for Flagship Van Lines, but did not receive a call or email back.
BBB encourages victims of the scheme to call the Inspector General’s Fraud Hotline at 1-800-424-9071.
“They’ve ruined our life”
Movers from Flagship Van Lines came to Michelle Stone’s former residence in North Carolina to pick up her items on June 12.
Stone is now in Arizona, where she moved to be near her parents, and she has yet to receive her things.
“The thing that kills me the most is they have boxes of scrapbooks that I made over the years, and I made all three of my babies’ baby books,” she said, “so all their ultrasounds, their hospital bracelets, their pictures from right after they were born – things I can never, ever get back.”
Another item missing that’s particularly tearing her apart is a large bird cage, the prized possession of her 10-year-old daughter, who has autism.
“I just feel like I failed her. I feel horrible. I cannot tell my baby you’re probably not going to see it again,” Stone said, adding “They’ve ruined our life.”
Stone said her parents hired Flagship Van Lines – not necessarily because they were the cheapest, but because they promised to get Stone’s belongings from North Carolina to Arizona the fastest.
She said her parents initially paid 1,900.
“The guy basically told my dad that if you don’t pay the 3,500, but his parents ended up writing a check for double that on the day of pickup.
He posted a scam alert on Facebook and said he has since had five or six victims of Flagship Van Lines contact him, asking him what to do.
Trout said he wants justice not so much for himself, because he has lived with it and moved on, but for all of the other people. The office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio said that more than 900 customers have been identified as victims so far.
“I honestly don’t want anybody to go through this again”
When Abbas Makhdum was moving from San Diego, California to Round Rock, Texas with his wife, two kids and parents, it took from June 16 to July 28 for his items to be delivered. Some electronics were missing, like an Apple TV, and most boxes were torn.
He said the contract guaranteed the arrival of his goods between four and 20 days. Makhdum was calling company representatives on nearly a daily basis, but he said they stopped taking his calls or responding to messages.
He and his family had been sleeping on the floor for weeks. Makhdum went out to buy some inflatable mattresses, a TV so his kids wouldn’t feel as bad about the move, pots and pans, and clothing.
But his biggest concern was that his elderly, diabetic parents didn’t have enough of their medications, and insurance restrictions kept them from getting more. Even when the remainder of their medications arrived, he worried they weren’t usable because they had been sitting in a hot container for so long.
Makhdum said he paid 2,873. But when his items were delivered, the movers asked for $4,099, so he called police. Makhdum said police told him because it was a civil matter, they should pay and legally go after Flagship Van Lines later.
Makhdum has spoken to lawyers but noted, “It’s not about money at this point. I honestly don’t want anybody to go through this again. I mean, there was so much begging involved in this thing.”