A Valley company that was supposed to help people get back on their feet is accused of running off their money.
In September 2018, Alexandra Ormsby says she walked into the Phoenix offices of Second Chance Rentals, to pay her rent with her debit card as she had done for the past year and a half. But on this day, she says she was asked to pay by money order instead.
"She (a worker) stated the machines are down, the computer is not working," Ormsby said. She got the money order and returned with the $800 she owed.
Two days later, Ormsby says she received an email from Second Chance Rentals informing her of its immediate closure.
The company sublets rental properties for consumers with evictions, convictions, and less than stellar credit--like Ormsby. The tenant pays them, and they pay the landlord.
She called them to make sure her rent had been paid.
"He goes on and says 'yes I have your money here. Your rent's going to be paid,'" she said she was told.
But soon after, she says the apartment complex threatened to evict her family for non-payment.
"I didn't know what was happening at this point I was like man you know we paid our rent. I have receipts," she said.
So she let me know.
After trying several disconnected numbers, we were able to track down Second Chance Rentals CEO Les Boynton by phone. He says the closure happened very quickly.
"I had paid a lot of legal fees and a lot of other things, and I had no money left, and so I couldn't pay the rent. I understand that it's not right and I understand that had no choice at the time other than to minimize the damage and shut everything down," he said.
We asked why he took and kept rent money knowing that just a few days later the business would be closing.
"The only answer I can give you is that when we took the rent, we thought we would be able to survive and stay in business and then after the fact we realized we couldn't, and we ran out of money, and we couldn't pay the apartment complexes," he said.
In the end, he says that fewer than ten rent bills went unpaid and that most of them were able to work out new lease agreements directly with the landlords.
"So there was a lot of good things that...that did happen to people that normally would never have been able to sign a landlord-tenant agreement," he said.
Low-income non-profit Community Legal Services tells me, they are working on four Second Chance Tenant cases in addition to Ormsby's.
Ormsby was able to get her landlord to allow her family to stay but says Second Chance Rentals should not be able to just keep her $800.
"I want my money back yes. I want my money back and everything that they've done to us you know?"
Ormsby has filed a case in Maricopa County Small Claims Court to try and recover what she paid.