This story appeared in The Mirror Online a week or so ago, and we’ve now received permission to reproduce it here. We would like to appeal to any genuine movers who have knowledge of the company in question to send it us so we can pass it on to  Dean Dunham (the writer – a columnist for The Mirror and a partner at Debello Law). We would also stress that the MoveAssist company mentioned in the article has no connection with the company MoveAssist International who supply software solutions to the industry.  

Paying people to help you move house is pretty normal, them then keeping all your stuff less so – the clever new scam where people are tricked into signing away all their possessions.

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 St Helens 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.

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.

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.

• 00:01, 22 JUL 2018