Possible furniture removal scam

I have just read that a company purporting to be a legitimate removal firm has been targeting those moving abroad, stealing furniture and personal belongings and selling them on. There was a name mentioned but as the matter is currently under investigation I don't want to jump the gun in case it turns out to be unfounded.

It seems to have been ongoing with numerous people's lives literally devastated. Their excitement of moving and setting up a new home simply became a nightmare when they discovered all they had had been stolen.

Moving house/country is expensive and I think the vast majority of us would happily opt for the lowest quote to help save a few pennies but how to avoid these new thieves? Recommendations from several people who've all used one particular service would be great. Long-established, well known firms are presumably reputable but perhaps more pricey?

How would you safeguard your prized possessions?

I can only speak as I find and I or family members have used the following over the past couple of years.

www.anglofrenchremovals.co.uk based in Maidstone

www.frenchvanman.eu based near Limoges

Both gave superb service at very reasonable rates.

To avoid all the problems and worries, I rented a 7.5 ton truck and did it myself. Well, MOST of the worries - it's a strange feeling, driving around Europe with all your belongings behind you! Plus, I missed the Hull-Zeebrugge ferry and was put on the Hull-Rotterdam boat instead, a couple of hours later. This added an extra country to the move!

Shouldn't the storage company have some kind of insurance to cover theft or damage while in storage?? Surely that is a pre-requisite as a storage business.

Woah, that's a bit of an "out" for the insurance company. I would have assumed cover was straight through from collection to delivery, not with a blind spot in the middle. That's useful to know, Rob.

On a similar theme, we had approximately 20% of our possessions stolen in the process of moving to France. When our removal company (now defunct) delivered our goods after six months in storage, the list of missing items ran to four pages. It appears that someone in the 'secure' depo was helping themselves to a box whenever he fancied it. I wasn't unduly worried, because thankfully none of the missing items were precious in personal terms, and I was insured. Or so I thought. It then turned out that my insurance covered all items being transferred into storage, and being delivered out of storage... But not covered whilst in storage. Expensive error..

I read about this last year Brian when I had just moved here. Some people had happily shown the guy into their shed/small barn/outhouse (or whatever) for him to take a few bits of metal. A couple of days later they went into the barn where they also stored their garden tools, ride-on and some other items of value only to find that they had gone. The scamp must have returned when they were out to take everything. So beware and never show these guys what you have. Bring the scrap out to them if you want to dispose of anything.

I needed to cut costs coming over here and I used a man and van from a UK bidding site. I got a good price (not the cheapest one but the cheapest with good reviews) from a company in some eastern european country, lithuania I think! Although I did not know this at that time but they were brilliant. I did ensure that all my documents from my filing cabinet, jewellery and any smaller valuables travelled with me in the car though. I had no problems with the guys. They turned up on time, did a hell of a job loading, were extremely pleasant (they did not speak English and I did not speak their language but we got by with google translate on my Samsung!!) and only one slightly damaged bookcase at the other end.

I would not steer clear of man and van approach but try to get one with some reviews.

Ive used the bidding sites but was careful not to take the cheapest bid and also to check the feedback carefully. It is a worry if you aren’t dealing with someone who has been recommended by someone you know then it’s really important to use someone who operates legitimately and is set up with a real business. A quick Google of their name doesn’t cost much but goes a long way to checking you won’t be scammed.

I've Googled this man since and there appears to be a whole ream of complaints with furniture disappearing and his magically disappearing when people have tried to contact him. As far as I know the SFO are now involved so he will be dealt with.

This man was based in Salford / Manchester but word of easy pickings travels fast. He used a bidding website where people posted their requirements, undercut the other bidders and got the jobs. I see so many requests, especially on Facebook, for 'a man with a van' to move furniture around France or over from the UK. Many times they find someone working 'casually' - that's a different matter altogether but it infers a lack of proper checks etc. All it would need is for a 'team' to set up over here, win several of these jobs and promptly disappear.

The other scam, reminded because we had it this week, is a white van turning up with a couple of men asking for scrap metal (feraille). They first ask for the metal, then start a list of other things like car batteries, tralala. Make sure that if you have scrap it is kept outside to begin with, do not invite them into barns, sheds and even less so in your house. Our dogs obviously went down a treat this week. I showed them the metal I have to be collected, which is actually outside the house/garden and just off the road on my parking space. They said they would be back next day to collect, of course they have not. We know from what we have heard that they have a good look at everything, ask about pick ups in such a way that they get such details as when people go shopping, have an appointment and so on on pretence of not coming then. That is when they turn up and turn you over. Two dogs, one very big and fierce looking, deals with that for us but for the rest of you I hope this helps you decide how to deal with it your way.

For our move we used a large reputable company, since then we've done smaller deliveries based on recommendations by others and that has worked well. When I was in the UK I used a few couriers to move furniture about and put it into my storage - I always made sure they had real positive feedback on the removal sites and had confirmation that the goods were received and checked on arrival. Ideally use recommendations and word of mouth but if not possible, go on reputation. Also check to make sure the company or individual doesn't appear on any scam lists or if UK based have any small claims charges against them...