The 2 males had averted prison expenses for his or her alleged shifting rip-off, even after years of buyer complaints. However once they arrived at their Scarborough, Ont., enterprise park in June, undercover police in additional than a dozen autos had been ready.
The takedown was instant.
Within the weeks that adopted, the cost sheet would develop to greater than 800 counts, together with fraud, theft and conspiracy, associated to greater than a dozen shifting firms alledgedly operated by the boys that moved prospects domestically and throughout the nation.
It’s maybe the biggest ever prosecution of movers accused of scamming their prospects.
Not one of the allegations has been confirmed in courtroom.
As Dogan Celik and Cemal Ozturk had been led away in handcuffs, a CBC Market workforce was watching.
That is the story of how the case got here collectively.
WATCH | Unique video exhibits alleged shifting scammers arrested:
The movers’ strategies
Complaints had been regular for years, to police, the Higher Enterprise Bureau, Client Safety Ontario and on-line evaluations.
However investigators recommend that when a shifting firm identify grew to become too problematic, the identify could be modified. A reset of types to wipe the slate clear.
“The brand new firm names that had been created again in March of this 12 months weren’t on our radar,” mentioned Const. Chris Lengthy of Toronto police.
His investigation started quickly after a Market episode aired that appeared into the identical set of shifting firms, however police say they weren’t conscious of that episode till later in their very own investigation.
The alleged rip-off uncovered by Market seems to be equivalent to what police later discovered. It will start with a buyer being supplied a quote or estimate based mostly on what the movers described as an business customary. On shifting day, they’d prospects signal a brand new contract.
However “as soon as that sufferer’s property was en path to their vacation spot, they had been contacted by a consultant of the corporate and instructed that they must pay a lot greater costs, typically within the vary of 300 to 500 per cent of the unique estimate,” mentioned Lengthy.
This was usually based mostly on claims that the belongings weighed greater than the unique quote.
If the shopper did not pay, police and prospects allege the movers would threaten to get rid of their belongings.
However investigators had a niche of their info.
They had been usually solely contacted after a buyer realized one thing was unsuitable. There was no proof of what their belongings weighed earlier than the transfer. And as soon as the movers loaded up their truck, they required prospects to signal a contract agreeing to a flat weight, whereas additionally waiving any proper to really weigh any of it.
After which one other officer instructed Lengthy what he’d simply seen on tv: the unique Market investigation the place journalists posed as prospects and performed a transfer with one of many suspect firms. The journalists did weigh their belongings, and had proof that the advised flat weight was a lot greater than the precise weight of the objects. Additionally they used hidden cameras and satellite tv for pc trackers as a part of the investigation.
“It was good for me as a result of it offered some perception,” mentioned Lengthy. “It gave me quite a lot of confirmations about what I used to be doing.”
Busting the movers, returning belongings
When police arrested the alleged principals of the assorted firms, Ozturk and Celik, additionally they discovered a whole lot of items of furnishings and containers belonging to prospects of their warehouses.
They knew what to search for, they later mentioned, as a result of Market had hidden digicam video contained in the warehouse in its episode.
No less than a number of the contents had been being held pending additional cost.
Marie Clarke Walker started her transfer from Ottawa to Toronto with an estimate of $723.20. Quickly after pickup, that value jumped to $4,009.26.
She thought she would by no means see her belongings once more — till she acquired a name from police saying “we discovered your issues,” a second she describes leaving her “extraordinarily pleased.”
“It wasn’t the sofa and the 4 beds” that she was most excited to see. As an alternative, it was “photos, these mementoes that I might by no means get again.”
Different shifting firms, all members of the Canadian Affiliation of Movers, collected her belongings — and people of dozens of shoppers — and returned them.
Walker is now considered one of dozens of shoppers linked to the prison grievance.
Ozturk and Celik now every face greater than 270 counts of varied expenses from fraud to possession of the proceeds of crime, conspiracy, theft and mischief.
Market approached each males for remark, although neither mentioned a phrase. It additionally contacted their attorneys, however acquired no remark. Previous to the episode’s broadcast in March, Celik did ship a press release saying he values his prospects and promised a full evaluation of operations.
The movers’ unhealthy week will get worse
After the arrests in June, investigators moved rapidly to switch the 2 males to Toronto’s South Detention Centre, a sprawling advanced with few home windows and excessive partitions.
They’d spend six days there, showing in courtroom by video hyperlink in orange jumpsuits, till being launched on bail.
Lawyer Rocco Scocco was ready for them.
“Whereas I am happy to see legislation enforcement do that … I have been upset in them for the previous two years as a result of these should not even be on my desk as a civil litigator,” he mentioned.
The lawyer was within the jail parking zone with stacks of civil lawsuits from previous prospects. He wanted to serve the 2 males with the paperwork, however had been unable to search out them.
Ozturk was the primary to go away and moved rapidly to a ready automobile.
However the driver of that automobile had his window open as he sped away. Scocco hurled the lawsuits into the automobile whereas yelling, “You have been served, Mr. Ozturk.”
The same scene performed out minutes later when Celik was launched.
Within the weeks that adopted, Chatham-Kent Police would additionally cost the 2 males.
Two extra people linked to the companies would even be arrested. Days after the preliminary arrests, police would decide up a lady who now faces 269 expenses. Police up to date the investigation within the fall, saying the arrest of a second lady on a handful of expenses.
There are additionally greater than a dozen pending civil lawsuits in opposition to Ozturk and his Transfer Me Once more firm.
It’s a lengthy authorized highway forward, and the biggest ever investigation for Lengthy of Toronto police, as he works to show his assertions in courtroom.
“This is not even a shopper safety matter,” he mentioned. “Client safety is designed to manipulate actually professional companies, not designed to manipulate criminality, which I imagine that these shifting frauds are utterly prison.”