HOUSTON—The leaders of a suspected bogus moving company are finally under arrest after allegedly ripping off Texans for years.
The arrests of Andy Bueno, 33, and Anthony Fanelli, 38, come after I-Team undercover cameras caught them in action. Back in October, KHOU 11 News outfitted an apartment with furniture and hidden cameras. Along with the help of the Houston Better Business Bureau, we set up a sting.
And the moving company we hired did just as suspected. First, it promised a $39.99 hourly rate with no hidden charges, like the shrink wrap they used over and over again.
Better Business Bureau Undercover Investigator: "The wrap and all that they include that?"
Mover: "It’s in the move."
But after loading up our furniture in an hour, they jacked up the price to more than $1,200, including $900 for that shrink wrap.
When we refused to pay, the movers, including Bueno and Fanelli, took our stuff and took off.
"Deception was used to sign contracts," said Harris County Assistant District Attorney Valerie Turner.
Prosecutors said we were not the only ones to get duped.
"We’re talking about between $100,000 and $200,000 in loss of cash money and or property," Turner said.
Bueno and Fanelli allegedly used at least a dozen different moving company names and preyed on consumers in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, as well as Houston.
"It’s just robbery, straight up robbery," said victim Jindu Okwuwa, adding that the arrests should have come a long time ago. "But you know it’s better late than never."
When the I-Team first met Okwuwa last fall, he and his wife were sleeping on an air mattress because the movers held their bed and everything else hostage.
"I let them in, and they just took it," said Okwuwa’s wife.
Houston police said their belongings, and others, are likely long gone—either sold by the men for a quick buck or trashed.
For Okwuwa, that included irreplaceable family photos and heirlooms.
"You can’t get those (sic) stuff back, those stuff are valuable, you can’t put a price tag on them, you know those are the kind of things that hurt me the most," Okwuwa said.
Wednesday night, both Andy Bueno and Anthony Fanelli were being held in the Harris County Jail on $370,000 bond.
They had no attorney of record listed in court files.
Officially, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office lists 19 victims, but investigators with other agencies tell the I-Team across Texas, victims could number in the hundreds.