The owners of a Toronto moving and storage company are facing charges in an alleged fraud scheme after nearly a dozen customers complained to police.
Police allege that the husband and wife team behind Green Moving and Storage in Scarborough, Ont., deliberately exaggerated load weights after they picked up customers’ belongings in order to increase the moving costs. Det. Alan Spratt with the Toronto Police Financial Crimes Unit told CTV Toronto that the main focus of the investigation will be on determining whether fraud occurred.
“The allegation is that it's intentional right from the beginning,” Spratt said on Tuesday.
Nearly a dozen consumers contacted police about the moving company, which also went by the names of Landmark Van Lines and Ryder Moving, after CTV News ran a story about the business in May. One of those customers, Ashley, said she complained to police six months ago.
“Basically, they’re holding our stuff hostage,” she said at the time.
As part of an operation called “Project Haul,” police conducted two searches of Green Moving and Storage after the initial complaints.
Perry Thorne, the chairman of the Canadian Association of Movers, said the company facing fraud allegations has received an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit organization focused on increasing marketplace trust. He said the moving industry can be frustrating because it isn’t regulated and companies don’t need a license to operate.
“There’s nothing that would prevent you from opening a moving company, to operate a business that may be not even a legitimate business,” Thorne said. “There’s nothing to stop you.”
Police admitted that it can be difficult monitoring business practices in these types of industries.
“We don’t have any ability in criminal law to just shut a company down,” Spratt said.
Rahime Vatansever, 45, and her husband Mesut Vatansever, 46, were both arrested on Tuesday after the RCMP and Toronto police executed search warrants at a warehouse. They are each facing single charges of fraud over $5,000 and possession of the proceeds of crime. Their daughter was also taken into custody.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.