08/01/2012 04:31 pm ET Updated Aug 01, 2012

Toni Searcy Told To Pay Northern Van Lines Moving Company $3,365 To Get Husband's Ashes Back

After losing her husband of 40 years, Toni Searcy couldn’t bear living in the same house she’d made a lifetime of memories in. But initiating her move across the country only made things worse.

Searcy alleges that Northern Van Lines is refusing to give back her possessions, including her husband's ashes, unless she coughs up $3,365 -- a sum she claims is $1,500 more than what the company originally asked for her move from Oregon to Houston, according to MyFoxHouston.

“It’s like losing him all over again,” she told KRIV-TV.

Not able to afford the price increase, which the moving company claims is due to extra weight, Searcy now has little choice but to try and buy back her possessions when the moving company auctions them off, MyFoxHouston reports.

Have you ever been the victim of a moving-company scam? Please share a comment or email

Searcy isn't the first customer to have a bad experience with her moving company. Almost 40 percent of moving company customers say they’ve run into problems during a move, according to a recent poll. And things may only be getting worse: complaints against the industry increased 17 percent last year.

There are some particularly egregious examples. Denver-based Movers USA faced 55 federal counts relating to hijacking customers' property in January, and South Florida’s National Moving Network was indicted with extorting hundreds of customers nationwide back in 2008. One New Jersey woman even claims that the movers she hired loaded her possessions and then jacked up the price and would only agree to reduce it if she had sex with them.

Indeed, the problem has become so widespread that just this month a new law signed by President Obama will allow the Transportation Department to charge movers a minimum $10,000 penalty if they try to squeeze customers for extra money.



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