by Dana Fowle
Aired July 29, 2016
Cobb County –
When hardworking families are down on their luck, often all they need is a second chance. A company called Second Chance Rent Program offered to help families in trouble to find another rental home. Bad credit? They can help. Pending eviction? They can help. But our investigation asks: Who is really getting helped here?
“‘Oh, we can help you before you get to the eviction process.’ That really got me, like, I don’t want to get evicted,” recalled Gwendolyn Reese.
But it was coming. Her husband lost his job. Ms. Reese, a disabled vet, was recovering from surgery. They were in trouble. And they found Second Chance Rent Program where they say “everyone deserves a second chance.”
“If I can stop that and you can help me then I definitely want to use your services,” she said she told the company representative.
Already cash strapped, they told the Better Business Bureau in a complaint they paid $150 to Second Chance Rent Program to get the experience they were seeing in the company’s online testimonials.
“I moved into a three bedroom, two and a half bath townhome. I love it,” said the video posted on the company’s web page.
Ms. Reese believed they could help her. You see, Shani and Sam Leccima run Second Chance Rent Program and Married Millions — the “ultimate business guide for married couples.”
So on May 27th last year, Ms. Reese gave them money. The website says it takes 24-48 hours to get back.
But Gwendolyn Reese claimed, she couldn’t get Shani Leccima to reach out.
“No, she did not,” she told the Fox 5 I-Team.
June 11. In an email to Shani Leccima she complained, “you have not gotten back with me yet.”
“I would get up early in the morning to be the first person to call her when the business opened. I would always get her voicemail.”
June 16. Fed up and running out of time Gwendolyn Reese asked for a “full refund.” “I have gotten no services rendered,” she wrote.
The next day, she said, Ms. Leccima called her.
“She says, ‘I’m going to get your name to the people I work with to help start the housing process.’ I thought, this is what I should have had a while ago, but OK.”
She told the BBB she was forwarded to another company for help which cost her another $70.
Ultimately, she said, she found a place on her own.
Did Second Chance Rent Program do anything for her?
“No, they did not.”
The Fox 5 I-Team decided to head over to Second Chance Rent Program’s office. The company address led us to the US Post office.
We found another address for the Leccimas – a Midtown penthouse. Long gone said security.
Sam Leccima did return a call from Fox 5 and told me his wife ran the company and it’s since been shut down.
But here’s a little irony for you: Shani Leccima who operates a company that claims to help families find homes has a long list of housing troubles herself. Court records show about a dozen dispossessories – eviction proceedings.
We couldn’t find the Leccimas, but we found their footprint in the Fox 5 I-Team archive.
Back in 2007 Sam Leccima was a featured player on the reality TV show “Flip This House” buying, renovating and selling homes. But the truth was that he didn’t own the houses and lied about selling them and making big money.
“A lot of us have become rich in single-family residential investments,” he touted on a website promoting himself.
We found the BMW-driving Leccima had a long list of angry clients who told the court, police and state regulators they lost thousands of dollars investing with Sam Leccima.
Despite getting evicted Ms. Reese and her husband are in a home, back to work and rebuilding no thanks to the people she paid to help her.
“The money I put into this place I could’ve used that money somewhere else,” she told me.