Following a undercover investigation by CBC Market in a group of national moving companies accused of misleading prices, Toronto police have arrested two key figures and charged them with a series of criminal offences.
The charges come after a raid on Friday when the two bosses arrived at an address in Scarborough where the removal companies are based. Within moments, a large police presence descended on the scene, seizing company assets and recovering customers’ belongings, including family heirlooms and the ashes of at least one deceased person held by the movers.
A police press release alleges the customers were given “a low-cost contract to move their belongings”, but once the items were loaded onto a truck, “the men were contacting the customers asking for more money”.
Customers who wanted their goods delivered “would be forced to pay the inflated prices”, often in the thousands of dollars.
Friends and business partners Cemal Ozturk and Dogan Celik, both 30 years old, were accused with four counts each of fraud, mischief, possession of property obtained by crime and false pretence, as well as conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Ozturk and Celik have been held for at least 72 hours until a bail hearing on Monday. None of the allegations have been proven in court.
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In an e-mail statement at the time of Market investigation, Celik said his companies value customers and treat them with respect, and that his companies will “conduct a comprehensive review of all of our operations and procedures to ensure the companies are upholding these important company values.”
Despite several attempts by phone, registered mail, email and social media, Ozturk could not be reached for comment at the time of the Market investigation. CBC was unable to identify Ozturk and Celik’s attorney.
Customers forced to pay inflated prices
The conclusions of the police investigation correspond to what Market the producers heard from clients, including during a hidden camera segment with one of the companies linked to the two men.
A Market A producer posing as a client was told her move would cost a lot more than originally anticipated. This was only revealed to the undercover producer once the movers left with his belongings.
Police say Ozturk and Celik operated a series of moving companies offering services across Canada, often changing names as bad reviews piled up. Their companies included O’Canada Movers, Roadway Moving and Storage Inc., SafeBound Moving and Storage Inc., Canadian Principal Movers, All You Can Move, Right on Track Moving, New Vision Moving, Greenway Moving and 12282569 Canada Inc.
Customers who were unable to pay the inflated prices are alleged to have had their belongings held in an undisclosed warehouse, resulting in storage charges.
“It’s definitely the scam of the season,” Nancy Irvine, president of the Canadian Association of Movers (CAM), told Spring. His organization receives complaints from the public about alleged moving companies and different types of scams.
Irvine said the CAM had received numerous complaints related to the family of companies of the Market investigation.
These companies are not affiliated with his association, which has a rigorous certification process. In fact, the CAM issued a warning on the companies of its consumer alerts page in June 2021.
The association works with the police to return or store property held by the companies after the raid.
Other moving companies offer trucks to rescue goods
During Friday’s raid, police seized computers and other equipment, while some officers headed for a nearby warehouse where customers’ belongings were stored.
Rocco Scocco, the lawyer for a number of clients of the affected removal companies, said the raid was “the first step”. He also said other law enforcement agencies should step up their investigations into moving companies that lure customers with budget prices, then move on to much higher costs once they have them. goods.
Over the weekend, families and moving trucks arrived at the warehouse to pick up their boxes and furniture. Some of the trucks and crews were donated by other moving companies. In many cases, customers hadn’t seen their belongings in months, not since a moving truck had picked them up.
Police also removed a luxury Volvo SUV and a Range Rover connected to the business.
Multiple civil lawsuits against Ozturk and Celik are expected to be launched by former clients.
Toronto police believe other patrons were victimized and are urging them to contact police while the investigation continues.