LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) - After six months of misery over her missing property, Joanne Hamilton just received some good news and some bad news: most of her worldly belongings have been found, but she has no means of retrieving her property.
The Lockport grandmother was among nearly a thousand consumers across the United States who got caught up in a nationwide moving scam. Federal authorities described the con artists as racketeers posing as movers, and the crew that loaded up Hamilton's belongings hid her property and held it for ransom.
Hamilton hired a company called Flagship Van Lines, last summer, which unbeknownst to her, was one of a dozen different names the moving scammers went by, and she has not seen her belongings since.
"I had to go out and buy new clothes, new everything. So I have basically nothing that was mine."
Last summer, 12 suspects in that moving scam were indicted by a federal grand jury in Cincinnati, and since then authorities have been tracking down the belongings of the scam victims whose property was being held for ransom.
Joanne's property included furniture, clothes, family pictures and precious heirlooms. She received a call from the manager of a self storage facility in Denver, Colorado, over the weekend as she was out to dinner with family, that her property had been located.
Hamilton reacted with raw emotion right in the restaurant, "I let out a scream and then I started crying, and the tears, and I'm gushing."
Now, Joanne has to figure out how to get her property from Colorado to New York, "The bad news is that, I don't know how I am going to get my stuff."
Hamilton put all of her resources into moving her home back to Lockport. Now just about everything she has in her new home has been donated. Joanne has even started a GoFundMe page.
If you are one of those victims of the nationwide moving scam, you can contact the U.S. Department of Transportation's national victims hotline at 1-800-424-9071.