2 On Your Side: Moving Company Under Criminal Investigation After Dozens Of Families Lose Their Belongings
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A moving company not licensed to operate in California is now under criminal investigation after dozens of customers inadvertently hired the company to take their belongings cross-country, only to find out their items may be in storage and could be auctioned off.
https://assets1.cbsnewsstatic.com/i/cbslocal/wp-content/uploads/sites/14984641/2021/11/Moving-2.pngWhat was supposed to be a new chapter in their lives turned into a never-ending nightmare for families who lost furniture, clothing and sentimental belongings that can never be replaced.
In April, Maribel Moses and her boyfriend were looking for a moving company to relocate them from Los Angeles to Vermont, where Moses was starting law school.
"Throughout that process, you get a bunch of solicitous phone calls, so I answered the phone, and it was a company called Gold Standard Moving and Storage," Moses told CBSLA's Kristine Lazar.
When moving day arrived in July, the movers were three days late, and not what Moses expected.
"So they finally show up in an Enterprise rental truck," Moses said.
Moses said it was that point that she learned Gold Standard is a broker who had hired East Freight Logistics to do the move. Maribel frantically researched East Freight and was hit with a litany of negative reviews. She says she tried to back out, but Gold Standard told her it was too late to cancel without forfeiting her $1,300 deposit.
"We were given the utmost reassurance that our things would be delivered safely," Moses said.
Moses' contract gave an estimate of 7 to 21 business days for delivery. However, by September, her belongings still had not been delivered.
"Sometimes I would call, and she would say, 'We have a driver, he will be there in 6 days,'" Moses said. "Other times I would call, and she would say, 'Oh, just kidding, we don't have a driver, we are looking for another driver.' So that strung us along this whole time."
By October, Moses was frantic.
"We don't have a couch to sit on," Moses said. "We don't have pots and pans to cook. My boyfriend had his childhood yearbooks and family photos. I had jewelry my grandma gave to me since I was a child."
Desperate for help, Moses stumbled across a Facebook page titled "East Freight Logistics Fraud." She learned she is not alone. David and Brenda Smith, who moved from Victorville to Ohio in June, also suffered a similar fate.
"We haven't enjoyed nothing because this is our daily lives, trying to find out where our stuff is," David Smith said.
"My daughter was born at one pound," Smith said. "We lost all of her hospital pictures, her graduation pictures. She has nothing to show her kids."
Christy Clark moved cross country to Florida in June. She also hired Gold Standard, not knowing that they were only a broker. On day 80 of waiting for her belongings to arrive, she says she called East Freight Logistics.
"My kid doesn't have his things," Clark said. "I have no baby pictures. My husband's grandparents' ashes are in there. I cannot believe you can be this heartless. And she told me I could wait 10 to 14 more days or I could go to California and get my stuff."
So she did, and when she arrived at the storage facility where her things were being held, Clark discovered that the rent had not been paid, so her belongings were going up for auction.
"They had suggested that I wait around in Victorville and try to bid for my own stuff," Clark said.https://assets1.cbsnewsstatic.com/i/cbslocal/wp-content/uploads/sites/14984641/2021/11/Moving-1.png
Clark called the local police and was able to get her things. However, she saw other people's belongings in the same storage unit.
"And that means there are people who will never get their stuff back, and that's heartbreaking," Clark said.
According to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, East Freight Logistics is not licensed to "conduct moves of household goods" in California. This year alone it has 93 complaints on file with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Most of those for not delivering goods.
Earlier this month, Gold Standard had its broker authority revoked, meaning it is officially out of business until it's reinstated.
Carrie Clark, no relation to Christy, says she did not realize she had hired a broker when she signed a contract with Gold Standard.
"I had no idea that they had brokered the move to anyone," Carrie Clark said. "They never disclosed that."
"I called and called and called," she added. "My number would get blocked."
Carrie Clark was out of work, so researching East Freight became her obsession. It took her to a rented space inside a Salvation Army building in Grants Pass, Ore.
"I saw zero organization, and boxes and belongings that were open and gone through," Carrie Clark said. "I saw furniture and boxes piled so high, not organized. Numerous people's names, and they use these little tags to identify your stuff. Different color tags all in piles."
Carrie got the local Grants Pass police involved. A Grants Pass police detective confirmed to CBSLA that there is an ongoing criminal investigation. A Portland police detective told CBSLA by email that he is trying to have the FBI or U.S. Department of Transportation follow up.
"And I can usually spot a scam a mile away and I didn't," Carrie Clark said. "And the regret and feeling like it's all my fault. It's just been really difficult."
The Portland police detective is trying to help customers retrieve their belongings from storage facilities in Oregon. CBSLA was able to track down several storage units at a facility in Victorville which are being rented by East Freight. Most are past due, which means people's belongings could end up for auction.
Many people have had to drive out to California and Oregon to retrieve their belongings. No one has been able to get a refund from the movers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is also conducting a civil investigation into East Freight Logistics and the brokers who hired them, including Gold Standard.
When CBSLA reached out to East Freight Logistics, a woman who identified herself as the owner claimed the company was licensed to do business in California, which CBSLA has confirmed it is not.
She also said she would resolve the cases Lazar sent to her. However, Lazar never heard back.
Gold Standard, meanwhile, has not responded to any further request for comment.
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