Action 9 investigates rent-to-own homes

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ORLANDO,Fla. - Several families desperate for a home of their own thought a Winter Park company was their best hope.

But after paying nearly $1,000 each, they said they fear the man who runs the business ran off with their cash.

Cindy Claytor started packing everything she owned, convinced an offer from a local company gave her a shot at home ownership.

Then after paying the company owner nearly $1,000 upfront, the deal and her dream collapsed.

"Who does that? What kind of animal does that? Hurt people who don't have anything already?" said Claytor.

Claytor said she met Kevin Williams after searching for a home on Craigslist.

She claims his company, He Ain't Heavy Housing, promised to find her a home, and told her that her money would go toward a down payment to own it.

"He promised me a house, a three-bedroom home," said Claytor.

She paid the cash after checking his website, and what appeared to be an impressive downtown business address in an Orlando office tower.

But Claytor said that shortly after choosing a home, Williams disappeared.

"We needed this so bad, and we trusted him so much," said Claytor.

Action 9's Todd Ulrich found at least three other families who said they paid hundreds for homes they never moved into.

"I think he got us for our money, man," said Jorge Flores, who said he paid more than $900, then discovered it all was too good to be true.

"I woke up and it was just a dream and it just hit the floor," said Flores.

The company's downtown address is just for mail and meetings. The actual office turned out to be an apartment near Winter Park.

When Ulrich knocked on the door, Williams declined an interview request, but later said he was not able to find homes for Flores and Claytor, so now they would get all their money back.

"This is all the money I had in the world," said Claytor.

Williams also claimed he already helped consumers buy homes but did not provide any names.

Any rent-to-own company needs to provide a complete contract before getting any money from prospective clients.