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Woman says she was scammed while trying to rent a home in Springville

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 10:45 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A Leeds woman warned others about housing schemes after she said her family was taken advantage of while trying to rent a home in Springville.

Mother of four, Brandie “Branny” Nikola said her family had been looking for a new home since they lost their house in a fire nearly a year ago. She said in her haste to find a place to live,  she didn’t realize that she’d been scammed until it was too late.

Out of a house, money, and in tears, Nikola, spoke to WBRC about how it happened.

Branny Nikola said: “Be careful. It’s ridiculous, how the world is.”

Nikola said the 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home on Evergreen Road in Springville was listed on Facebook marketplace for $800 a month in rent.

Excited by a great deal, Nikola and her husband reached out to the woman who posted the house.

Nikola said the woman gave them a website to pay a $50 application fee and get a code for a self-tour

“We did that. We got a pin. [and it] didn’t work,” Nikola explained.

Unable to unlock the door, Nikola said they called the number on a sign in the front yard and said the company told her they had no record of Nikola’s transaction.

Also, the house didn’t rent for $800 per month, it was actually $1325.

Nikola said while at the home, three other families arrived with codes to unlock the door, but none of the codes worked.

That’s when Nikola said she realized the person online who posted the house had no affiliation with the property.

“She didn’t want to meet us,” Nikola said.

Fraud experts warn that realtors who do not want to meet in person could be a red flag. They also say it’s important to slow down and if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

“We’ve been staying at the hotel, and it’s scary not knowing where we’re going to stay,” Nikola said.

WBRC tried to contact the person who posted the house, but the profile and listing had been taken down from Facebook Marketplace.

Our efforts to speak to the company that manages the property were not immediately successful.

Nikola said she didn’t expect to get her money back and that they were still looking for a place to live.

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