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Multiple families and homeowner affected by renters scam

Published: Sep. 8, 2021 at 6:04 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - A Huntsville family is out of a home they thought they had the legal right to rent. A mother and her 3 children moved into the home of their dreams.

Miriam Martin arranged a lease agreement over email with a man who she believed was Robert Funke. Turns out, it wasn’t Robert Funke, but someone pretending to be him.

“I sent them my deposit, moved in, and this morning it was a whole different knock,” said Martin.

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Huntsville Police Department and the actual owner of the home, Kevin Hall showed up at the door telling them they needed to get out of the house by the next day. Hall says he wants to be understanding because children are involved, but he and his wife have a house to sell.

“These people call and contacted us last week on Friday wanting to know where the keys were to the house that they had rented. My wife had told them we didn’t rent the house and the house was actually contingent and we had sold the house,” said Hall.

Martin says the keys were shipped to the home and left outside the door of her previous home.

Robert Funke called our newsroom and says he had no idea any of this happened. He sold the home in July to Kevin Hall and he is not involved.

The family showed us the email exchanges, the lease agreement, and other documentation. Funke thinks his identity has been hacked and this family was lied to, but not by him, by someone pretending to be him.

HPD and Hall showed back up at the home the next morning and told Martin she had to leave or she would be arrested.

Huntsville Police Department Deputy Chief of Investigations Bureau Dewayne McCarver says this is a very unfortunate situation.

“Unfortunately they fully believed that where they were moving was a great new home and now just to find out that as all completely a fraud. The homeowner is also a victim. We have two victims in really a terrible terrible situation.,” said McCarver.

I am told this is a common scam. However, this situation is bizarre because usually the family never actually gets into the home.

Hall says both lockboxes and the realtor box are missing that the keys were inside.

HPD is investigating to find out who really did this, how the Martin family received the keys, and they are helping the family find a place to stay.

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