Canadians planning a move should do their homework.
The arrests of Cemal Ozturk and Dogan Celik, who allegedly run fraudulent relocation services, are likely just the tip of the iceberg.
“They weren’t the only scammers and scams continue to occur and new operations are launched every day,” said Nancy Irvine, president of the Canadian Association of Movers (CAM).
CAM is the organization that helps consumers ensure their moving day includes professional, quality services. Irvine and CAM have assisted the police and helped victims recover their belongings from scammers with free trucks and manpower.
Irvine explained on Tuesday that consumers continue to fall victim to rogue movers, a situation exacerbated by the pandemic.
With 90 percent of consumers looking for moving services online, “opportunistic, faceless scammers are capitalizing on the new trend.”
People go online to compare quotes, in some cases not realizing that all companies offering services could be the same company, “operating under different identities, increasing their likelihood that consumers will choose them,” Irvine said.
“Their low-ball estimate ends up being the most expensive after the scam plays to the end.”
According to the police, that is the alleged situation they discovered when Ozturk and Celik were arrested last week; their company operated under at least seven different names.
CAM knows all the tricks — the unrealistic lowball quotes, the fraudulent paperwork, the hidden charges (and holding your assets for ransom until paid), and failing to follow up when your assets are damaged.
It doesn’t have to happen. CAM has a checklist for any person considering a move and a consumer alert website to help you avoid the scammers.
“Hiring a mover isn’t the same as buying something on Amazon or finding a hotel room or the cheapest flight online,” Irvine says.
“You’re not looking for the lowest price and trying to cut corners. These people take everything you own and drive away and can do whatever they want once they have your most prized possessions.
“You need to know who your mover is. You need to know their full name and where they are located. And they need to know what you are going to move so that you get a good detailed quote from the start that will be honored.”
To find a reliable mover who adheres to a code of ethics, contact CAM at 866-860-0065 or check out the website, mover.net.
You can learn more about moving scams through CAM’s consumer alerts
You need written quotes, you need to consult the mover with CAM, the Better Business Bureau or the provincial consumer protection agency. Make sure whoever you hire puts their quote and promises in writing.
And if you think you’ve been scammed, contact the police. Don’t be shy – you’re not alone.