More customers say movers vanished with their belongings; feds now investigating

Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 7:00 PM EDT
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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - The list of customers who say that a moving company disappeared with their belongings is continuing to grow. Now, a federal investigation is underway.

Julie Sanchez, Diana Loperena, and Melissa Swanson each say that they paid Landmark Movers to relocate their possessions from one state to another, but that they do not know where their belongings have gone.

“We haven’t received anything yet,” Loperena said. “Now we can’t get in touch with these people, not even over the phone, nothing.”

Live 5 Investigates previously reported on Landmark weeks ago after being contacted by Sanchez, who recently moved from Summerville to California. Sanchez said that Landmark picked up important possessions such as memory books with pictures of deceased family members at her Dorchester County home on July 10 and that she has not seen them since.

“I would not wish this on my worst enemy,” Sanchez said.

The Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that there is currently a “multi-state, multi-jurisdictional” investigation underway.

“At this point in the federal investigation we are compiling the reports from the local police agencies where people have been victimized by Land Mark Movers,” FBI Special Agent David Dick told Sanchez over email. “Unfortunately I am not able to assist in the recovery of items that the company may have at specific storage locations.”

“It may not seem like we are using every tip that comes but we are overwhelmed with the number of victims like yourself who are involved,” Dick added in part. “This investigation has been ongoing for some time now and we are doing everything we can to bring those responsible to justice.”

“Why aren’t these guys arrested?” Sanchez said.

In the time since the initial Live 5 Investigates report, other moving company customers described having an experience with Landmark that was similar to that of Sanchez.

Melissa Swanson said that she hired Landmark two months ago to move her belongings and those of her young son from Georgia to her new home in South Carolina. She said the movers picked up her items late one night in the Peach State and never brought them to the Palmetto State.

Swanson said that she has tried getting ahold of the movers and has been in touch with law enforcement, but has not had any luck locating her stuff.

She explained that her new home is almost completely empty and that she had to buy new clothes for her son, borrow items from her parents, and try to explain to her son where his toys are.

“I don’t really know what else there is to do,” Swanson said.

Loperena is a dentist in Puerto Rico, but says that she hired Landmark to move her son’s items from his old house in Alabama to his new house in Michigan. She said that her son’s belongings were picked up, but never delivered.

“We have started to buy new things,” Loperena said. “Because, you know, he’s in a house with nothing, so he has been buying furniture.”

Landmark Movers, which has also referred to itself in documents that customers were given as Landmark Moving and Storage and Landmark Move, has listed addresses in Sarasota, F.L. and suburban Atlanta. The company has not responded to requests for comment.

The non-profit Better Business Bureau says that they have also not been able to get ahold of Landmark. The BBB gave the company an “F” rating.

“In order for a company to receive an ‘F’ rating, it means that the company is not being responsive to customers’ complaints that the Better Business Bureau has brought to its attention,” BBB spokesperson Bryan Oglesby said. “In this particular case of Landmark Movers, this company had nine complaints recently filed that they did not respond or answer the complaints when we sent them from the Better Business Bureau.”

The BBB created a report last year called “Know Your Mover,” which recommends that people interested in hiring movers go beyond searching online to find a company and obtain estimates from representatives of three moving companies in person before handing over any money, insist on cost estimates based on the weight of items, and be careful of movers who demand money upfront.

The report also suggests that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is responsible for regulating interstate moving businesses, “may need more resources and additional enforcement authority.”

“Anytime there’s a large volume of complaints in the industry, we always like to see agencies step up their game,” Oglesby said.

Meanwhile, Sanchez, Loperena, and Swanson each say that they are hoping that they will get their belongings back.

“I don’t want to move ever again,” Swanson said. “This was a nightmare.”

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