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 move their belongings across the country, only to find their items could be stored and could be sold at auction.
https://assets1.cbsnewsstatic.com/i/cbslocal/wp-content/uploads/sites/14984641/2021/11/Moving-2.pngWhat was meant to be a new chapter in their lives has turned into an endless nightmare for families who have lost furniture, clothing and sentimental effects that can never be replaced.
In April, Maribel Moses and her boyfriend were looking for a moving company to move them from Los Angeles to Vermont, where Moses was beginning law school.
“Throughout this process, you get a bunch of caring 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 that was not what Moses expected.
“So they finally show up in an Enterprise rental truck,” Moses said.
Moses said that’s when she learned that Gold Standard is a broker who had hired East Freight Logistics to do the move. Maribel frantically searched for East Freight and was hit with a litany of negative reviews. She says she tried to withdraw, but Gold Standard told her it was too late to cancel without losing her $1,300 deposit.
“We were given the utmost assurance that our belongings would be delivered safely,” Moïse said.
Moses’ contract gave an estimate of 7 to 21 working days for delivery. However, by September his belongings had still not been delivered.
“Sometimes I would call and she would say, ‘We have a driver, he’ll be here in 6 days,'” Moses said. “Other times I would call and she would be like, ‘Oh just kidding, we don’t have a driver, we’re looking for another driver. So that’s been hooking us all this time.”
In October, Moses was frantic.
“We don’t have a couch to sit on,” Moses said. “We don’t have pots and pans to cook with. My boyfriend had his childhood yearbooks and family photos. I had jewelry my grandma gave me since I was a kid.”
Desperate for help, Moses came across a Facebook page called “East Freight Logistics Fraud”. She has learned that she is not alone. David and Brenda Smith, who moved from Victorville, Ohio in June, also suffered the same fate.
“We didn’t enjoy anything because it’s our daily life, trying to figure out where our stuff is,” David Smith said.
“My daughter was born at a pound,” Smith said. “We lost all her hospital photos, her graduation photos. She has nothing to show her children.”
Christy Clark moved to Florida in June. She also hired Gold Standard, not knowing they were just a broker. On the 80th day of waiting for her stuff to arrive, she says she called East Freight Logistics.
“My kid doesn’t have his stuff,” Clark said. “I don’t have any baby pictures. My husband’s grandparents’ ashes are in there. I can’t believe you could be so heartless. And she told me I could wait 10 to 14 more days or I could go to California and pick up my stuff.”
So she did, and when she got to the warehouse where her stuff was stored, Clark found that the rent hadn’t been paid, so her stuff was up for auction.
“They had suggested that I wait in Victorville and try to bid on 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 retrieve his belongings. 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 authorized to “perform household goods moves” in California. This year alone, 93 complaints have been filed with the US Department of Transportation. Most of them for not delivering goods.
Earlier this month, Gold Standard had its brokerage authority revoked, meaning it is officially bankrupt until reinstated.
Carrie Clark, no relation to Christy, says she didn’t realize she had hired a broker when she signed a contract with Gold Standard.
“I had no idea they negotiated the move with anyone,” Carrie Clark said. “They never disclosed that.”
“I called and called and called,” she added. “My number would be blocked.”
Carrie Clark was out of work, so researching East Freight became her obsession. This took her to rented space inside a Salvation Army building in Grants Pass, Ore.
“I saw no organization, and boxes and personal effects that were opened and walked through,” Carrie Clark said. “I’ve seen furniture and boxes stacked so high, not organized. Lots of people’s names, and they use these little tags to identify your stuff. Different colored tags, all stacked up.”
Carrie implicated the local Grants Pass police. A Grants Pass police detective confirmed to CBSLA that a criminal investigation is ongoing. A Portland police detective told CBSLA via email that he was trying to get a follow-up from the FBI or the US Department of Transportation.
“And I can usually spot a scam a mile away and I haven’t,” Carrie Clark said. “And the regret and the feeling that it’s all my fault. It’s just been really hard.”
The Portland police detective tries to help customers recover their belongings from warehouses in Oregon. CBSLA was able to track down several storage units at a Victorville facility that are leased by East Freight. Most are overdue, meaning people’s belongings could end up at auction.
Many people had to travel to California and Oregon to pick up their belongings. No one was able to get reimbursed by 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 contacted East Freight Logistics, a woman who identified herself as the owner claimed the company was licensed to do business in California, which CBSLA confirmed was not.
She also said she would solve the cases that Lazar sent her. However, Lazar never got an answer.
Gold Standard, meanwhile, did not respond to any further requests for comment.