We continue our series of Special Reports on Portland businessman and convicted felon Fred Rich. A couple tells Troubleshooter Andy Liscano they believe Rich forged their signature on a document related to the home they thought they were buying from him.
How'd they even find out about it? What did they do about it? And what did they do when they say they found out the terms they signed for to buy the house weren't legit?
Joseph Arzola showed us his signature. One that's really his and the other one that is a fake. A forgery he believes was done by Fred Rich. Not only that, but Arzola says he never signs just his last name.
And why is Fred Rich's name on this form? And who is Joseph Arzola? Like many before them, Joseph and Rebecca Arzola thought their dream had finally come true when they moved into a house on Oak Grove in Portland in February 2015.
They loved it. The house was listed by New Wave Properties. One of various names Fred Rich uses in his real estate transactions.
"So you're pretty excited. You thought, wow, this guy Fred Rich is pretty cool because he worked with us to allow us to realize the American dream. Right?," asked Andy Liscano.
The Arzola's say the house was listed for $149,000. They say they put $6,500 down on a 50-year note at 9-point-9 percent interest. The also say they understood that the first year of the contract would serve as a lease, and that according to the contract the $1,513 monthly payment would be applied "towards the payment of the house as if it were a mortgage payment and it will apply so much to interest, principal, and taxes, insurance, etc."
So the Arzola's figured after the first year, nearly $25,000 would be paid on the house. But when it came time to sign a second contract, an actual mortgage, in February 2016, the Arzola's recalled to the Troubleshooters what Faith Rich, Fred's daughter told them.
"That only, I believe it was like $1,100 would actually be applied to our balance. And then every month I think it was only like a ridiculous amount, like $8.00 only went towards the principal. Actual principal," Mrs. Arzola told us.
The Arzola's estimated they would have wound up paying $850,000 for this house. By the time they moved out eight months later, they had lost, by their estimation, $37,000!
And about those signatures... The issue came up because, according to Arzola, his signature was attached to a repair estimate for $52,000 from Home Repair Services. Little did he know at the time that Fred Rich owns this business.
It was a woman named Lori Beabout, in the San Patricio County Appraisal District, that Arzola says called him about his signature.
"And I told her, I said that's not my signature. She goes.. 'We suspected that.'" The Arzola's just left the issue alone after that, and eventually moved out.
"We probably didn't stand a chance because us against him. I'm sure he has lawyers. Money. You trusted him. Exactly."
Now, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for the Arzola's. Remember, the state Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending issued Rich, his wife Valerie, and his daughter faith a Cease and Desist Order, which, pending an appeal by December 11th, says they have to repay all mortgage loan applicants that he received payments from between September 4, 2015 and May 25, 2017.
Also, if you'd like to file a complaint against Fred Rich, visit:
You can also mail them a complaint to the Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending at 2601 N. Lamar, Suite 201 Austin, TX 78705, or call them at 877-276-5550 toll free, or fax them at (512) 936-2003.
We can also report we went to Rich's Portland office again last week. No one came to the door even tho his vehicle was parked in front. We'll keep trying. Thank you all for calling with your stories. We'll continue our special reports next week.
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