Dozens of people in South Florida say they paid several shipping companies to send products like AC units, scooters and other electronics to family in Cuba, but the items never arrived. The NBC 6 Responds and Telemundo 51 Responde teams have been tracking the shipments for over a year and located some of the missing items.
In May of 2019, NBC 6 and Telemundo 51 asked Yosvany Acosta, the owner of Tiendas Caracol about the money people paid him to ship items to Cuba. The items hadn't arrived. He promised us he would deliver the items or return people’s money, but by June, that hadn’t happened.
So, we went back to his office in Medley and he told us clients "should be getting a phone call from Cuban Customs in the next few days.”
But the electric scooters dozens of clients bought from Tiendas Caracol almost two years ago, never got to Cuba.
In December, we caught up with Acosta outside a Miami Dade courtroom to ask him what he had done with the money clients paid him for the shipments.
"It was deposited in bank accounts, all the money is accounted for and it was running the company, basically paying for all those things and paying for the shipping of those containers to Cuba," he told us. When we pressed him saying the items were never delivered in Cuba, he told us, "I have nothing to say right now," and walked away.
That day, Acosta was in court fighting with a former associate over control of Caribbean Cargo Hub, a company he used to send products to Cuba.
During the hearing, Acosta admitted he had eight containers on hold in Cuba because he hadn’t paid to have them released.
When the judge asked him who had taken the money, he answered "I did."
He was immediately scolded by the judge who told him, "You can't take the money. That's not your money."
That day, ownership of the cargo company was transferred to his former associate, Isaac Kodsi, who says when he got control of the bank accounts, they were empty.
He also says he found packages in the cargo company warehouse that he believes were abandoned by Acosta and his girlfriend, Odalis Hidalgo, when they were operating another company, Portal Al Caribe.
"Whatever customers paid money to Portal, I have no control over that,” Kodsi said. “The best I can do that if the merchandise is in my warehouse, I am glad to turn it back to them.”
Andres Garcia owns a company that sends items to Cuba and says he had items in that warehouse.
"With Yosvany Acosta we lost almost 68 grand," Garcia said.
He says when he recovered his items from the warehouse, he saw the landlord was evicting the company because they hadn’t paid rent.
So, he stepped in and moved the abandoned packages to his place in hopes of returning them.
"There were so many customers there that they worked so hard during the year to ship the stuff to their families and for that to get lost it made no sense to me," Garcia said.
By then, many of those Portal Al Caribe clients had contacted Telemundo 51 and NBC 6 asking for help and we were able to connect them with their items.
“We came this Saturday and we were able to find everything that we bought," said Mercedes Sanchez, one of the viewers who reached out to us. Acosta and Hidalgo no longer answer our calls.
Although a fraction of their clients recovered their items, nobody has received a refund for the shipping fees.
If you think your items were in that abandoned warehouse, you can call 786-280-4023.
If you lost money with any of these companies, the Attorney General’s office says you can contact them to file a complaint by clicking here and filling out this form.