Homecoming. The Wake family got their belongings last week after waiting for months and forking out Dh5,500 on top of Dh11,000 they paid BBR upfront Image Credit: Abdel Krim Kallouche/XPRESS

DUBAI: Angry expatriates are urging authorities to shut down a Dubai-based relocation firm that allegedly duped hundreds of people of their money and belongings by using different names at different times.

Early last year, XPRESS reported how British company ReloGulf conned scores of families by offering them competitive quotes before fleeing with the payment and leaving behind shipments to rot in either a Dubai Investment Park warehouse or a third party’s storage facility elsewhere.

Outraged victims of the scam – mostly Europeans – say the two people who run the company have cheated several more in recent times after floating two other companies - Sovereign Relocation and British Budget Removals (BBR).

In recent weeks, customers who paid British Budget Removals (BBR) upfront for door-to-door shipment of their goods say they have either had to forget their consignment after months of waiting or arrange delivery themselves. Suspecting a scam, they are now weighing legal action.

John from the UK, Mike from Australia, Marco from Germany are among many dozens of former UAE residents who said they are planning to sue the companies for theft, fraud and breach of agreement, having already filed police cases.

“What galls me me is that they are still in business and continue to con people without any fear of the law,” said a former UAE victim who relocated to Germany.

Ex-banker Elaine, 40, from the UK who recently moved to Dubai with her family from Portugal, had a harrowing tale to recount.

“We were promised a pre-Christmas delivery but I am still waiting. They had been lying to me for months, cooking up stories about the whereabouts of my belongings. The fact is that my stuff has not moved an inch since being removed from our home in Portugal on November 17,” says Elaine. “It appears they did not pay a third party in Algarve, Portugal. Now I am having to organise the shipping all afresh and that means another several weeks of wait,” added the mother of two who had to pay Dh24,000 to a third party, on top of Dh12,000 she paid to BBR. “They’ve been dishonest, unfaithful and a bunch of liars and it pains me how they handled my stuff. It’s not about the money because there is lots of priceless memorabilia in it.”

A customer who tracked down the payment she made to BBR found out that the money went to a company called Marine Registration Services LLC. However, calls to their Satwa office went unanswered as did calls to the mobile phones of the two men, Phil Davis and Neil Phillip, supposedly running the company. There is no contact number on the company website except for a fax number that does not work. Marine Registration Services is registered only to undertake vessel inspections, not furniture removal or freight forwarding.

Aussie Daryl Wake, 46, who moved to Dubai with his wife and kids just weeks ago from Surrey, England says he is relieved to see his stuff arrive back in Dubai only this week after months of delay. “They quoted £2,000 but as soon as he got our items on September 26, he asked for £4,000. He was happy to extort us the fee or it would not leave the UK,” says Wake who finally got the belongings after paying a third party almost another £1,000. “What’s worse, they tried putting in other people’s stuff in the container in my name. What if had contraband?” asks Wake.

XPRESS wrote to BBR seeking clarification but there was no response.

More damning testimonies

From UK: Briton Jon McCann who paid ReloGulf Dh13,000 including Dh3,000 insurance to ship home 85 packages in September 2013 says he is still waiting for his belongings including Dh60,000 worth of media equipment. “They ruined our lives...we continue to receive rubbish, pathetic excuses,” he says.

From Australia: Michael O’Halloran paid ReloGulf Dh7,440 to ship his new boat from Dubai to Perth in April 2013. He claims Phil Davis told him that the boat would reach him end of July 2013. Early December 2013, he discovered his boat was never shipped. “Many of their lies have been deliberate, pre-meditated, elaborate and malicious,” he told XPRESS.

From Sweden: Vangi Radhu Samarasinghe, who worked in Dubai for 16 years before moving to Sweden, said she paid ReloGulf up front to ship 10 boxes containing “sentimental and priceless things” like her wedding album and Bose and Jumo music systems.

“Now Phil Davis tells me he can’t find my belongings and doesn’t know where they are.”

YOUSPEAK: Have you had a bad experience with ReloGulf, BBR or Sovereign Relocation? Tell us about it?