An employee of a local moving company has been charged after police say customers complained they were denied access to their own belongings unless they paid fees much higher than quoted.
At a news conference Wednesday, Ian Nichol, acting inspector for the Toronto Police Financial Crimes Unit, said police believe there may be more victims after two families moving from Alberta to the East Coast came forward.
Police said the case involves individuals said to employees of a Scarborough-based business, Green Moving, and Ryder Moving, which police believe to be affiliated, along with several other sister companies.
After the property had been picked up, police said customers were later told it was being held in a warehouse and would be destroyed if they didn’t pay rates much higher than originally agreed.
In one case, a family was quoted $2,700 and the movers sought $14,000, Nichol said.
“They provided false evidence of grossly exaggerated load weights as a ruse for fraudulently increasing costs to their victims,” police said in a news release.
Toronto police, the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the RCMP began investigating last month in an operation dubbed “Project Haul.”
On May 17, police raided a warehouse associated with Green Moving and allegedly seized property belonging to two families.
Nichol said the alleged scheme involved using aliases and multiple company names to mask the identities of the suspects and “make recovery difficult for victims.”
Burak Ozgan, 30, of Toronto, was arrested last Wednesday. He is facing two counts of fraud over $5,000, two counts of possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000and an extortion charge. He is scheduled to appear in court on July 4.
The investigation is ongoing and police said they believe other suspects are outstanding in the case.
Police are asking anyone who has had recent dealings with Green Moving, Ryder Moving, Landmark Van Lines or Capital Moving Services to contact the Toronto Police Financial Crimes Unit at 416-808-7300 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).