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I am devastated that my parents’ ashes were “sold without my knowledge after hiring the wrong moving company”.

A MAN lost everything he owned, including his parents’ ashes, after hiring what appeared to be a bogus moving company.

Dan Zimmerman had lived in Oregon for the past 25 years but decided to relocate in 2021 to be closer to family in North Carolina.

Dan Zimmerman lost all of his belongings, including his parents' ashes, after being scammed by a moving company

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Dan Zimmerman lost all of his belongings, including his parents’ ashes, after being scammed by a moving companyPhoto credit: WECT

Around October, the medical assistant was looking for a moving company that would help him move across the country.

Problems arose when Zimmerman realized how expensive the move would be. Renting a U-Haul would cost him over $7,000 not including the labor to load and unload the vehicle.

Another offer to rent storage containers to ship to Wilmington, North Carolina, would have cost him almost $20,000.

To raise some money, Zimmerman began selling whatever he could, keeping only sentimental and high-value items he couldn’t do without.

With only a week left until the move, he chose a company called Mayflower.

“They planned it, I paid them $1,300 with instructions that I would pay them three installments: $1,300 at the signing of the contract, $1,300 when they come and pick up my stuff, and another $1,300 when they finally mine.” Deliver stuff,” Zimmerman said said WECT.

The movers came and packed up his things, and Zimmerman drove to Wilmington, North Carolina. He did it so the company would store his items in a warehouse while he found a house.

Zimmerman finally found a home in December and called the company to set up a delivery date.

That’s when the excuses started, he says. At first, the mover said he was having trouble with his truck. Then the mover suddenly fell ill with Covid-19 and was absent for two weeks.

“I said, ‘Okay, I get it, but I’m still looking for my stuff,'” Zimmerman said. “The first week of January they stopped speaking to me and didn’t respond to their calls.

“You would never give anything back. And suddenly, [in February]I received a text message. All along they had told me that my belongings were in a storage unit in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“And I said, ‘Okay, give me the address.’ ‘Well, it’s in a safe place. We can’t give you the address,’” Zimmerman said, relaying the call.

After becoming concerned, Zimmerman began researching more about the company. It turns out Zimmerman didn’t hire Mayflower Transit, a Missouri-based company founded in 1927.

Instead, he hired a company with a generic name, Mayflower Relocation Services, based in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Upon further research, Zimmerman learned that Mayflower Relocation Services wasn’t a moving company at all, but a brother who did it an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau.

The company has over a dozen complaints against them, including some people like Zimmerman who never received their stuff.

Panicking, Zimmerman called the numbers he had for the movers every day. He learned that Mayflower Relocation Services had contracted out his move to a parent company, Efficient Moving and Storage.

After making more calls, Zimmerman reached out to someone who informed him that his items were being stored at Central Self Storage in Boise, Idaho.

“I called and in fact someone had told them I was going to call them to look for my property. And she said, ‘I’m so sorry, but your stuff has been auctioned off.’ And sent me pictures. And it just ended my life. I mean, it was literally unreal,” he said.

His belongings included expensive sports equipment, antique watches from his father, and a guitar valued at over $30,000.

Most disturbingly, his late parents’ ashes were sold along with jewelry and all of his family photo albums.

“She said I needed a search warrant to get access to the people who bought it. She wouldn’t help me otherwise. Boise police said they went over there, there was nothing they could do, absolutely nothing.

“I called Eugene [Oregon] Police also where my things were [picked up]. I told them and they told me they’ll see what they can do. But it’s outside of their state. And so I called federal agencies, everyone, nobody will help. Nobody,” said Zimmerman.

Because Zimmerman had entered into a business agreement with this company, law enforcement told him the matter was a civil one, not a criminal one.

He proceeded to contact the Attorneys General in Oregon, Idaho and Florida to find someone with jurisdiction. He also filed a complaint with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in Washington, DC.

PURSUIT OF HIS THINGS

After receiving an arrest warrant from the Eugene Oregon Police Department, authorities were able to locate the people who bought Zimmerman’s belongings.

Unfortunately, by the time the buyers were contacted, they had already thrown away many of Zimmerman’s paintings and personal items, unaware that he was looking for them.

They offered to mail the remaining photo albums they had, but couldn’t get hold of Zimmerman’s parents’ ashes. Regarding the other valuable items, the new owners would not return them, saying that they are trying to recover the money they spent to purchase the items in the storage unit.

Zimmerman said he was frustrated that there wasn’t a better system for tracking fake movers.

“I thought I was safe. I had already packed all my things, they were in an apartment in Eugene. All they had to do was pick it up and then deliver it. I never, ever, ever thought I would lose my entire family history. Gone. Everything,” he said.

NOT ALONE

According to FMCSA, there were over 7,000 complaints about moving fraud in the last year alone. The number has risen sharply since the pandemic began.

The FMCSA is a civilian agency, meaning it has no criminal authority and cannot prosecute the movers it bans.

However, if there is a large number of complaints against a single company, the case is escalated to the Department of Transpiration’s Office of Inspector General for possible federal prosecution.

“People need to make sure they have everything in writing when it comes to arranging their move,” said FBI Special Agent Kieran Ramsey.

“This includes making sure they understand if the people they are in contact with are a realtor or a mover, as these scams often start with an unscrupulous realtor.”

The Sun has contacted Mayflower Relocation Services but has not yet received a response.

Zimmerman was able to recover some of his belongings, but cannot find his parents' ashes

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Zimmerman was able to recover some of his belongings, but cannot find his parents’ ashesPhoto credit: WECT

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Bobby Allyn

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