LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) A moving company that is not licensed to operate in California is now under criminal investigation after dozens of customers hired the company to take their belongings across the country, only to find out that their items may be on stock and could be auctioned off.
What was to be a new chapter in their lives turned into an endless nightmare for families who lost furniture, clothes and sentimental belongings that can never be replaced.
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In April, Maribel Moses and her boyfriend were looking for a moving company to move them from Los Angeles to Vermont, where Moses started law school.
“During that process, you get a lot of caring phone calls, so I picked up the phone and it was a company called Gold Standard Moving and Storage,” Moses told CBSLA’s Kristine Lazar.
When the moving day came 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 that was at the time she learned that Gold Standard is a broker who had hired East Freight Logistics to carry out the move. Maribel frantically researched East Freight and was hit by a series of negative reviews. She says she tried to back out, but the Gold Standard told her it was too late to cancel without losing her $ 1,300 deposit.
“We got the greatest assurance that our things would be delivered safely,” Moses said.
Moses’ contract provided an estimate of 7 to 21 business days for delivery. But by September, her belongings had still not been delivered.
“Sometimes I called and she said, ‘We have a driver, he’ll be there in 6 days,'” Moses said. “Other times I called and she said, ‘Oh, just for fun, we do not have one driver, we are looking for another driver.’ So it got us excited all the time. “
In October, Moses was hectic.
“We do not have a couch to sit on,” Moses said. “We do not have pots and pans to cook. My boyfriend had his childhood yearbooks and family photos. I had jewelry that my grandmother gave me since I was a child. “
Desperate for help, Moses stumbled upon a Facebook page titled “East Freight Logistics Fraud.” She learned that she is not alone. David and Brenda Smith, who moved from Victorville to Ohio in June, also suffered a similar fate.
“We have not enjoyed anything because it is our daily life and we are trying to figure out where our stuff is,” David Smith said.
“My daughter was born on a pound,” Smith said. “We lost all her hospital pictures, her graduation pictures. She has nothing to show her children.”
Christy Clark moved cross country to Florida in June. She also hired Gold Standard without knowing that they were just a broker. On day 80, waiting for her belongings to arrive, she says she called East Freight Logistics.
“My child does not have his things,” Clark said. “I have no baby pictures. My husband’s grandparents’ ashes are in there. I can not believe you can be so heartless. And she told me I could wait 10 to 14 days more or I could go to California and pick up my things. “
So she did, and when she arrived at the warehouse where her belongings were kept, Clark discovered that the rent had not been paid, so her belongings were going to auction.
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“They had suggested I wait in Victorville and try to bid on my own stuff,” Clark said.
Clark called the local police and was able to grab her stuff. However, she saw other people’s belongings in the same storage unit.
“And that means there are people who will never get their things back, and that’s heartbreaking,” Clark said.
According to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, East Freight Logistics is not licensed to “perform removals of household items” in California. This year alone, it has filed 93 complaints with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Most of them for not delivering goods.
Earlier this month, Gold Standard had its brokering authority revoked, meaning it is officially out of operation until it is reinstated.
Carrie Clark, unrelated to Christy, says she did not realize she had hired a broker when she signed a contract with Gold Standard.
“I had no idea they had conveyed the move to anyone,” Carrie Clark said. “They have never revealed that.”
“I called and called and called,” she added. “My number would be blocked.”
Carrie Clark was out of work, so research in East Freight became her obsession. It took her to a rented space inside a Salvation Army building in Grants Pass, Ore.
“I saw no organization and boxes and belongings that were open and going through,” Carrie Clark said. “I saw furniture and boxes stacked so high, not organized. Numbers of numerous people, and they use these little tags to identify your things. Different color marks 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 via email that he was trying to get the FBI or US Department of Transportation to follow up.
“And I can usually see a scam a mile away, and I did not,” Carrie Clark said. “And the regret and the feeling that it’s all my fault. It’s just been really hard. ”
Portland Police Detective is trying to help customers retrieve their belongings from warehouse facilities in Oregon. CBSLA was able to track several storage units at a facility in Victorville, which is leased by East Freight. Most are overdue, which means people’s belongings may end up at auction.
Many people have had to drive out to California and Oregon to pick up their belongings. No one has been able to get a refund from the movers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is also conducting a civilian investigation into East Freight Logistics and the brokers who hired them, including the Gold Standard.
When CBSLA contacted East Freight Logistics, a woman who identified herself as the owner claimed that the company was licensed to conduct business in California, which CBSLA has confirmed is not.
She also said she would resolve the issues Lazar sent to her. Lazar, however, never heard back.
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Gold Standard, meanwhile, has not responded to further requests for comment.