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Huntsville family potentially out thousands, and a home

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 10:37 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A mother and her 3 children face a surprise deadline to pack up and get out of a home they moved into 24 hours ago. WAFF received a phone call to the newsroom.

The nanny for mother, Miriam Martin called in saying that they have been scammed and need WAFF’s help.

WAFF went out to visit the family at their dream home that they moved into just yesterday. After research, conversations with a landlord attorney, a real estate office, and the family, it appears this may be a common rental scam.

”The house was just too remarkable. l had taken pictures of it. I had to brag and tell people about it,” said one of the renters, Alfonso Provens.

Miriam Martin found a listing for a home in south Huntsville. Her last lease ended, and she wanted to find a new place to stay with a growing family.

After communication, with who she thought was the homeowner, Robert Funke, she moved into the home on September 7.

“We did an email signing for the lease agreement and here are the keys.”

Then, the next morning, a knock on the door from Huntsville Police.

“They told me I had to get out of this house. I mean where am I going to go, me and my children?” said Martin.

Martin says the officers told her that they did not belong in the home and they had to be out by tonight.

WAFF found the listing for the home on Zillow, which is actually under contract as of late August.

After contacting the real Estate Office, Coldwell Banker of the Valley, they say they are aware of the situation and “scam” is the correct term to use for this incident.

Alfonso Provens, Martin’s fiance was also going to move into the home and says everything added up at the end of the day.

“Everything checked out, documentation, sent maps of the home, even apology letters for taking so long,” said Provens.

Martin says Robert Funke lived in this home and passed away earlier this year. Martin believes she was communicating with Funke’s son, Robert Funke II.

After further investigation on the property, WAFF found tax records dating back several years. Funke did live in the home and WAFF found his obituary dated from last year.

The family says they are in complete shock and all they know to do is hire an attorney.

This woman has children, a home, they have taken all of our money. Then, they are giving her a deadline to get out?” said Provens.

Landlord Attorney, Sarah Taggert says this is actually a very common scam, especially before the pandemic.

WAFF checked in with the family and they are still in the home.

This is a developing story and we will update as it unfolds.

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