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Colorado mover charged with felony theft in Denver, Weld counties

David Zoda_Huseyn Nemat-Zoda_Denver Police Department
Posted at 5:43 PM, Sep 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-14 19:45:32-04

DENVER — The owner of H&M Relocation — a company that Contact7 has exposed multiple times — has been formally charged with felony theft after he was arrested on Tuesday.

Denver police arrested David Zoda — whose legal name is Huseyn Nemat-Zoda — on Tuesday on charges related to moving scam allegations.

On Wednesday, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said she had opened a criminal case against Nemat-Zoda of H&M Relocation. Nemat-Zoda allegedly used his company to commit felony theft, according to the district attorney's office.

According to an arrest affidavit for Nemat-Zoda, on or around July 16, a police officer received a call from a woman who said in mid-June, she had hired H&M Relocation Services to move her belongings — estimated at $50,000 — from Denver to California.

The woman said she found Empire Moving Group, based out of Florida, on June 14. After submitting a quote request, the company told her the move would cost $3,383.70, according to the affidavit. It included a three-part payment schedule, where she'd pay $1,127.90 three times — once immediately to secure a truck, once when her items were picked up, and once when they were delivered, according to the affidavit.

Colorado mover charged with felony theft in Denver, Weld Counties

On June 16, movers, including Nemat-Zoda, arrived at her residence. Nemat-Zoda said some items had not been previously disclosed, but the woman pointed out the items on the estimate from Empire Moving Group, and Nemat-Zoda agreed to move them, according to the affidavit.

After everything was packed, the woman said Nemat-Zoda told her the payment — roughly $2,199 — was due in cash or money order, according to the affidavit. The woman said she went to the bank to get the money and when she returned, Nemat-Zoda demanded $5,993.90.

While she was back at the apartment, the woman was approached by a worker who said Nemat-Zoda had incorrectly packed the items in a way so that she could not see how everything else was packed, and therefore, why Nemat-Zoda had increased the price, according to the affidavit. When the woman confronted Nemat-Zoda with this information, she found that boxes were not stacked to the top and areas in the truck were empty.

When she explained this to him, "he began to scream and cuss at her and called her a scammer and a loser and that he had dealt with such scum previously," according to the affidavit. He said she would never see her belongings again and would bring everything to his storage unit. He then left the apartment.

The woman was not given an address for where her property was taken and did not receive updates on how to pay to claim her belongings, according to the affidavit.

Around June 24, after the woman's property hadn't arrived in California, she contacted Empire Moving Group. The group provided a response, which was redacted in the affidavit. The woman said nobody had notified her that Empire Moving Group was a brokering company and wouldn't be the ones actually moving her items.

A few days later, the woman sent an email to H&M Relocation Services asking about her items and the amount due. She did not receive a response.

According to the Denver warrant, an investigator called Nemat-Zoda's cell phone on Aug. 15 and spoke with him. That conversation is redacted in the affidavit.

The following day, police asked the woman to email H&M Relocation Services and say she would pay the costs and needed the address of her property. The responses from the company were redacted. Between Aug. 23 and 25, they exchanged multiple text messages where the woman repeated her request, and Nemat-Zoda told her to "pay and come and get her property," but never gave an address, according to the affidavit. He asked her for $6,863 and said her property wouldn't be delivered. He added that she needed to pay before Aug. 25, then they could meet at the warehouse and she could collect her items. He said her belongings were already scheduled to be donated to charity on Aug. 27.

He also texted her "that as soon as we are done with your goods then we will be filing a lawsuit against you," according to the affidavit.

On Aug. 31, police called Nemat-Zoda and advised him that the woman had filed a criminal complaint where she reported that the company had stolen her property valued at over $100,000.

As part of the investigation, on Aug. 9, Denver police called the Greeley Police Department after Nemat-Zoda's criminal history revealed an active warrant for his arrest out of Greeley and Weld County.

Denver police obtained a copy of the warrant, where they learned about two similar cases.

According to that warrant, in May 2021, a victim used Mega Van Lines to ship items from Greeley to Indiana, and paid H&M Relocation Services $8,000 on June 28. After Nemat-Zoda and his crew loaded up a truck, he demanded an additional $8,448.93, which the victim paid. The property was valued at $150,711.99, according to the Weld County warrant.

In a second instance from May 26, 2021, a victim hired American Plus Moving and Storage, which in turn hired H&M Relocation Services to move her belongings from Greeley to Florida. Around June 1, Nemat-Zoda loaded up the truck and the victim paid him $1,433.45. As of Oct. 15, 2021, her belongings had not been delivered. Her property was estimated at $11,940.00. She filed a report on July 27, 2021 with the Greeley Police Department for theft of her property.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration received at least 11 complaints against the company in 2021 and at least 12 in 2020. In at least five from each year, the property wasn't delivered. One complaint from 2020 claimed the company was holding a person's property hostage, according to the Denver affidavit.

Investigators said they believe there may be more similar incidents involving Nemat-Zoda. Anybody who believes they were victimized by the company should call the Economic Crimes Unit at 720-913-9179.

Nemat-Zoda has a preliminary hearing set for Oct. 4.

Denver7 spoke with customers who reported similar stories — H&M Moving packs their things, disappears for weeks or even months, and then demands thousands more to either deliver the goods or leave them in a storage facility.

Brandi Apolinaris, a former customer who fought to get her items back, said on Tuesday that she was ecstatic someone being held accountable.

"I screamed, I cried. I was so excited. I can't believe it. My kids thought, 'What's going on with mommy?'" she said. "And I'm like, 'The guy who stole our stuff is arrested, and he is going to finally be charged with just the horrible thing that he did to us and so many other people.' And I'm just so happy. I can't believe it, I just can't believe it."

In April 2021, a cancer patient reached out to Contact7 asking for help after she said the company held her heirlooms for more than four months. The woman, Kathy Ayres, said she was trying to settle her affairs by moving family heirlooms from Colorado to relatives in Virginia. When Contact7 reached out to Nemat-Zoda, he promised to return her possessions. With the help of the nonprofit MoveRescue, a nonprofit that advocates for consumers dealing with bad moves, Nemat-Zoda put Ayres' heirlooms in a storage unit. She said she still wants her $2,400 back.

The same month Contact7 spoke with Ayres, we also met Matt Wells, who saw Ayres' story. It brought up painful memories for him, he said.

He and his wife decided to use the Keystone Moving Group. He said they were told Keystone Moving Group were movers who used their own trucks, only to learn later it was a moving broker and they had hired H&M Relocation Services. He said after Nemat-Zoda loaded their entire house, he insisted on being paid $3,000, which was not previously agreed upon.

"And he said, 'You're not getting any of your stuff until you pay this,'" Wells said.

He said after he paid double the agreed-upon price, his belongings arrived in three separate loads, late, and much of it was damaged or missing. He estimated the damage at about $6,000.

In November 2021, Ann Anderson of Englewood told Denver7 she had hired Mega Van Lines and later learned that they contracted with H&M Relocation Services. She had not seen her belongings for two months, she said, until Greeley police called her to say they had found the storage units where some of her things were being held. She ended up moving the items herself, despite paying Nemat-Zoda about $16,000.

Before you hire an interstate mover, search the federal database to determine registration status, complaint history and the type of moving business. Many customers don't realize they are hiring a moving broker who then subcontracts the job with a completely different company.

Experts say to make sure pick-up and delivery dates are clearly spelled out in your contract, and don’t pay cash, prepay. or make a large deposit.

If you are a victim of moving fraud, file a complaint with the FMCSA, the state attorney general's consumer protection unitand local police.