Woman out thousands, belongings after using moving company tied to investigation
PRINCE GEORGE, VA (WWBT) - A woman moving from Prince George County to Wyoming still hasn't received her belongings from the moving company she hired.
That moving company is one of 14 owned and operated by the same people who have been charged 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.
Twelve people have been charged and five arrested in the case. More than 900 customers have been identified as victims of the scheme, but the Department Of Justice believes there are more victims out there.
The companies this alleged criminal organization operated under included: First National Moving and Storage, Flagship Vanlines, 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 Lines ,United National Moving and Storage, and U.S. Relocation System.
In a press release from the Department Of Justice, U.S. Attorney's Office of the Southern District of Ohio said, "The co-conspirators owned, operated and worked as employees, members and associates of the affiliated moving companies. The moving companies were operated principally out of a business address in Hollywood, Florida, and had a warehouse in West Chester, Ohio."
The moving company Tracey Lynne Hewitt-Adams hired is Flagship Van Lines and is based out of Guilford, Connecticut.
"I was looking for a moving company who would take it all the way across country, not someone who would just broker it out," Hewitt-Adams said.
She hired Flagship Van Lines because they had good reviews online. Hewitt-Adams signed a binding contract to pay $3,500. Movers arrived on June 25.
"It was a Monday," Hewitt-Adams said. "They were supposed to be there at 4 p.m. and because of a couple of delays they got there at 9:00 at night."
By this point, Hewitt-Adams paid two deposits. When the movers arrived, after already packing up her things in the truck, they asked for more money.
"I got on the road and a representative with the company called me and said they wanted it in cash or money order and I said 'no, I agreed to pay this with credit card.'"
Hewitt- Adams ended up paying a total of $5,200. Her belongings were taken and never delivered.
According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio this was the company's method. They would allegedly contract with people and increase the prices later when they already had their belongings.
Then they would allegedly threaten to hold their belongings hostage if the money wasn't paid. The alleged criminal organization was able to evade the law for years by changing their company name and allegedly working through 14 affiliated moving companies including the company, Hewitt- Adams paid to move her belongings.
"I didn't pay that third amount until their representative called me and said before it could go any farther they needed that other installment so as soon as I got to Wyoming. because it had to be in cash, we had to go to the bank here ... we actually wired it," Hewlitt-Adams said.
It is alleged that the defendants executed a scheme between April 2013 through July 2018.
The five people arrested are:
- 31-year-old Andrey Shuklin of Miami, Florida
- 51-year-old Phyllis Ricci Quincoces of Hollywood, Florida
- 28-year-old Vladimir Pestereanu of Sunny Isles Beach, Florida
- 31-year-old Roman Iakovlev of Charlotte, North Carolina
- 28-year-old Jessica Martin of Tamarac, Florida
According to the DOJ a few of these people went by other names. Phyllis Ricci Quincoces allegedly also went by Faith Ashford, Grace Rubestello, Phyllis Ricci and Phyllis Ann. Vladimir Pestereanu allegedly went by Vova. Jessica Martin allegedly also went by Emma Ricci and Mary Austin.
Investigators say to execute the scheme, "The defendants allegedly lied to customers about how long their moving companies had been in business, claiming many years of experience for companies that had been created just a few months prior. The defendants also allegedly created fake online reviews, praising the work of their moving companies."
The 12 people charged could face up to 20 years in prison.
Seven of the company's warehouses were locked down.
We reached out to the company via email and on seven different numbers but have not heard back.
As for Hewitt-Adams, she is just praying she will one day see her belongings again, which include pictures, photos her son made her as a child and a rocking chair that has been in her family for generations.
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