SARASOTA (WWSB) - Imagine moving across the country, only to find out the company you hired to help you move had taken your money and was keeping your things.
It happened to about 900 families who hired Flagship Van Lines, including a couple who recently moved to Sarasota.
Mike and Jeanne Porter started their moving process in late June. After doing research they decided to go with Flagship Van Lines.
"Their website was very professional, they had YouTube tutorials on the best way to move your things and pack your things, so I really felt comfortable with them so that's the reason we went with them," Jeanne Porter said.
And when they arrived at their previous home, Porter said they did a good job packing, and everything seemed on the up and up.
"The only concern we had was when they showed up in a U-Haul truck. They didn't show up in a regular moving or a company moving truck. So we were a little suspicious about that but it's because we were in a storage unit , you couldn't really get a large storage truck back into the storage area so we thought maybe that's why they did that," said Porter.
The company asked for a deposit up front, but told the Porters the price would double based on the amount of items they were moving. The Porters felt they had no choice but to pay Flagship $2,400.
The Porters made it to Sarasota, but their belongings didn't. After several weeks, investigators located the porters' things in an Ohio warehouse, just 45 minutes from where they used to live. The couple finally received their items in October. However, they never got back some items like their TV and jewelry.
"They started notifying people that they knew had things there and letting them know that their household goods were in the warehouse," said Porter.
Investigators say Flagship used eight other warehouses around the country to stash customers' belongings. Twelve people have already been charged with conspiring to defraud people through moving and another man has just been arrested.
"You like to think that people are good in this world. But there are people that are deceiving and just not right," Porter said.
The porters advise people to do research on companies before hiring someone and say if a moving company tells you to pay up front they are most likely a scam.