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Renter beware: Local family falls prey to housing scam

October 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

When a local couple found a Craigslist advertisement for a Dothan rental property, they thought they had found a home for their family-of-four.

When a local couple found a Craigslist advertisement for a Dothan rental property, they thought they had found a home for their family-of-four. It wasn’t until after moving into the home at 111 Timberline Court that they soon discovered through meeting the real property owner that they had fallen victim to a rental scam. Denise Hauenstein, a local real estate investor, said she closed on the property only two weeks ago and had several appointments lined up to show the house to potential tenants after spending the weekend in North Carolina. When she and prospective tenants showed up to the house Monday evening, Hauenstein said she was surprised to see a family and their two bulldogs had moved into the home. “They were shocked.

They had no idea,” Hauenstein said, adding that she remains in close contact with the family and is trying to assist them in any way she can. Hauenstein has contacted Wiregrass 2-1-1 to get the Bryant family needed items and recently organized a Go Fund Me page called "Housing Scammed!" to help the family get back some of what they lost in hopes they can have enough to move into another home. The Dothan Police Department is investigating the alleged crime, which is now its second active case involving a housing or rental scam. Dothan Police Sgt. Tim Mullis said these housing scams are becoming more common nationwide, but that Dothan usually only investigates one each year. The suspects in these cases are difficult to find and “extremely” difficult to prosecute since they usually live out-of-state, according to Mullis. In this case, the scammer lives in Texas. “In both cases, the investigation is ongoing,” Mullis said.

“We have issued subpoenas and search warrants and have not received that information back yet. ”Bryant said she is embarrassed by falling for the fake advertisement and wants to make others aware of potential scams. “We work hard for our money, for it to just be taken away especially when you’re trying to make a home for your family… I just hope it doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Bryant said. For more information on rental scams and how to avoid being victimized by one as a potential renter or property owner, visit usa. gov/housing-scams.

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