07/06/2012 03:27 pm ET Updated Jul 09, 2012

'Fake' Landlord Scam In Atlanta Prompts Community To Help Homeless Family Of 13

Update July 9, 2012: Donors can help the Collins family secure a new home by contributing to a fund set up by Occupy Atlanta here.

After pouring thousands of dollars into her decrepit house, Tocco Collins made the heartbreaking discovery that she had been seriously scammed.

The mother of 12 had waited patiently for her landlords to deliver on their promises to fix the house's holes, broken windows and burned out light box, CBS Atlanta reports. But after seven months, Collins learned that the phonies she had been paying $600 a month in rent didn’t own the home and had also skipped town. The actual owner had no idea her home was being rented out.

“Step by step, I’m trying to make some effort,” Collins told the news outlet. “Right now I’m lost.”

The Atlanta mother and her children are now homeless. They're also at risk of getting broken up by child services, a devastating fate that do-gooders are trying to prevent. Members of Occupy Atlanta are raising money for the family to buy a new home, and volunteers said they would help renovate the new residence after it's secured.

Getting duped by a fake landlord is hardly an anomaly in this depressed economy.

In June, Eric Sisson, a homeless Florida man, got two young women to fork over $1,375 for a foreclosed vacant home after posting an ad on Craiglist, the Daily Mail reports.

Realizing something was amiss, one of the women went to the police, who reached out to the home's actual owner. They learned that Sisson had not been authorized to rent the house.

According to the news source, Sisson was charged with three counts of unarmed burglary, two counts of grand theft, obtaining property by fraud and issuing a worthless check.