ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – The St. Louis office of the Better Business Bureau is investigating “one of the most predatory moving schemes” they’ve ever encountered.
“It appears that almost every part of this business was set up to deceive the public,” said Michelle L. Corey, St. Louis BBB president and CEO.
Corey said her office is investigating a network of Florida-based residential moving companies that have ties to the St. Louis area. She also said their investigation found the scheme uses multiple names and addresses in an attempt to hide from consumer groups, law enforcement and the public.
The four companies with St. Louis ties are: Able Moving and Storage, Apex Moving and Storage, Stout Moving and Storage, and Downing Moving and Storage.
BBB investigators said they were able to connect the operation to Hollywood, Florida residents Cielo Sebastian Shortt and his wife, Vanessa Amador. The duo has also been known to go by Sebastian Shortt and Paty Vanessa Amador Shortt.
Consumers told the BBB that after submitting an online form requesting residential moving bids, they were contacted by a sales representative, who gave them a “binding moving estimate.” When the trucks arrived for the move, the company often dramatically increased their charges. The consumers said when the moving trucks arrived, the crew often refused to unload them until they received inflated fees.
According to the BBB, consumers also said their household items were delivered weeks or months later than promised. They also reported some items missing or badly damaged. The consumers said they have been unable to get compensation for their losses.
When consumers canceled their moves "well before the deadlines outlined in their contracts," the company failed to give them a refund of their deposits, the BBB said. Consumers also said they had difficulty reaching office staff and could not figure out who actually ran the companies or where they were located.
Before hiring a moving company, the BBB advises following the below tips to find a trustworthy company: Do your research Get at least three estimates Get all agreements in writing Know your rights Protect your possessions Be wary of unusual requests Take your valuables with you Ask questionsClick here to read the complete consumer warning from the BBB.
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