Phoenix woman loses $500; questions rental program

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by LiAna Gonzales

azfamily.com

Posted on December 6, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 10 at 12:05 PM

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix woman said she thought she was getting a great deal on a rental home, but the deal turned into a financial loss.

She lost $500 over the whole deal.

Nicole Abreu said she was looking for a house to rent and came across a Craigslist ad indicating Valley homes for rent for as little as $500 with no credit check. Just move in.

Abreu said she called and eventually met with Sydnee Bollwinkel and even gave her $500 for a home that was reportedly available in Glendale.
 
"We were trying to find a place that was big enough for all of us," Abreu said.

But, after forking over $500, some guy claiming to be Bollwinkel's assistant called her.

"He was like, 'Oh, we made a mistake, that house has been rented so you have to pick a new one,'" Abreu recalled.

Abreu said she tried but Bollwinkel never responded to her and she remains out $500.

After refusing to return 3 On Your Side's phone calls and emails, we showed up at Bollwinkel's doorstep in Gilbert, but she bolted and threatened to call the police.

According to paperwork Bollwinkel had given Abreu, Bollwinkel claims to run a company that works with a group of investors who allow her to rent out vacant homes that are facing foreclosure or short sale.

Tenants, like Abreu, are reportedly allowed to be "house sitters" for the vacant homes in exchange for cheap rent, at least until the homes sell or are auctioned off -- homes like the one in Glendale that Abreu was initially interested in for only $500 a month.
 
3 On Your Side went to that home and caught up with the actual owner of the house, who was shocked and said, "I've never listed this house for rent."

The homeowner told 3 On Your Side that his house at one time was facing foreclosure, but he was able to save his house and never moved out and he certainly never gave anyone permission to move in.

"That's a pretty scary thought that somebody's trying to rent out my house without my knowing it," he said.

Bollwinkel and her husband, Derek, have been hot water before. In fact, an Avondale Police report details how "the suspects rent out a house, which they have no right to rent..."

Bollwinkel was never charged, but her husband was convicted and is currently on probation for the scheme.

Abreu said something needs to be done.

By the way, Abreu isn't the only who says she lost money, other consumers have contacted 3 On Your Side with similar complaints.

As for now, Abreu continues to look for a house to rent.
 

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