Van Tran says she called Miracle Movers after seeing a Craigslist ad touting a rate of $34.95. Tran says the day of her move another company called Moving On showed up and after Tran's stuff was loaded up, she says the cost went way up.
"It is $5,000. Five thousand, fifty-one dollars and ninety cents," Tran said.
Tran says the movers agreed to take $1,000, a washer, dryer and a laptop computer to settle her bill. When Tran posted the details of the move on Craigslist to warn other consumers, she says the movers threatened to distribute racy photos around her neighborhood that the movers claimed to have found on the laptop.
"I have been in the US for 18 years. I have never felt unsafe, you know helpless, until now," Tran said. "This is unbelievable."
A man who asked not to be identified out of fear of retaliation says he also called Miracle Movers. Like Tran, he says the men identified themselves as being from Moving On. He also says the advertised price of $34.95 turned into a bill for thousands of dollars. He says threats followed after arguing with the movers over the price.
He recalled, "One of them said, 'I have taken care of a few people in Philadelphia already; I will burn someone's house down if I have to."'
Both victims say they called law enforcement officers, but because both signed contracts, both victims were told by police that nothing could be done. The reason? The mover's contract lists a charge of $80 for every item they shrink wrap. On some moves the men wrap more than 50 items, raising the bill to more than $5,000.
Harris County Assistant District Attorney Markay Straud explained, "Our job here is to put people in prison and when you enter into a contract and you are given what is in the contract, there is nothing I can do criminally."
But Straud says that does not mean authorities are helpless.
"We make those referrals over to the A.G.'s office, and they have been investigating them," Straud said.
When we tried to contact Miracle Movers, the phone went directly to a voice mail box that was not set up, so we could not even leave a message. When we contacted Move On, we also got voice mail but did leave a message and have yet to receive any return calls.
Before you move, ask for a TxDOT ID number. Movers in Texas must have one. Also, if you feel you have fallen victim, call the state attorney general's office at 800-252-8011.