Removals company scam taking people for a ride- and keeping all their belongings

Moving house is tough enough without chancers banging on your door.

I’m on the case with one of the cheekiest and most shocking scams I’ve heard about, where one firm has more front that Brighton.

Jim Portesham, 66, from StHelens in Merseyside, sold his home in February and moved at the end of April.

Literally one day after the sold sign went up outside Jim’s house, he got a knock on the door. It was a bloke calling himself Derek Jacobs, from removals ­company MoveAssist.

‘Fully insured’

He explained that it was a new nationwide removals company set up by a famous entrepreneur, who he did not reveal.

Jacobs, which is probably not his real name, went on to say that ­anyone who signed a removal ­contract in April would receive a 50% discount in return for giving a customer reference.

Jim was wary of anyone trying to sell something on his doorstep as he had heard all the horror stories reported on this page.

But the next words that left Jacobs’ mouth gave him a false sense of security.

He said: “My company ­appreciates there can be trust ­issues with new companies and that we will be handling your personal affects.

"To put your mind at rest, we are fully insured and on the day of your move we deposit £5,000 into your bank account as security in case we break anything.”

Jim was totally sold on this and signed the contract.

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The money came, the possessions didn’t

On the day of the move, the £5,000 was credited to his account as promised. All seemed fine until the MoveAssist van failed to turn up at Jim’s new house.

After four hours, he reported it to the police. Within two days, the police contacted Jim to say they had spoken to MoveAssist.

But they told him the firm said it had bought all the house contents for £5,000 – and even showed them evidence of the bank ­transfer and a signed contract.

The contract, which had Jim’s signature, was for a house ­clearance, not a removal.

The police listened to Jim but said it was a civil ­matter, not ­criminal. In my view, this is clearly a ­criminal matter as he has been the victim of a fraud.

I have got involved – so watch this space.

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