Katie Moore investigates Faithful Real Estate, a company that some say is a real estate scam.
NEW ORLEANS, La. — Fourteen people in four states say they are hoping to get their money back from a Terrytown man who advertised on the web and social media that he was running a ‘no credit check home buyer’ program, according to complaints filed with law enforcement and other documentation.
The victims say they not only lost tens of thousands of dollars, but they have no homes to show for their participation in the program.
Decker Randolph describes himself as the “KING of real estate” on his Facebook page. He’s a convincing, likable man wearing tightly-pressed button down shirts in videos he has posted on his page advertising his various programs.
He incorporated the company Faithful Real Estate Properties with the Louisiana Secretary of State. It’s currently in good standing, but Randolph recently took down the company’s Facebook page after people started complaining about his business practices in the comments of pictures Randolph would post.
Randolph is not a licensed real estate agent in Louisiana, but he doesn’t claim to be. He tells people he is a real estate investor who ‘wholesales’ houses. From time to time, he pushes for people to join various real estate programs that he says he’s running, including his 'no credit check home buyer program.'
The Darby Family
Simona Brown Darby works two jobs: as a phlebotomist at a plasma donation site on the west bank and as a bartender at a neighborhood club in Algiers.
In the words of Darby’s 7-year-old daughter Skylar, “She sticks people and she give people drinks at the club.”
On a hot July afternoon, Skylar watched TV in the living room of her grandmother’s house in Algiers with a box fan nearby buzzing on full blast. The air conditioning doesn’t effectively cool the house down, especially with a dozen or more extended family members coming and going.
But the living room is now the Darby’s small sliver of the house, where they blow up a queen-size air mattress every night to sleep on. Their clothes are piled into a small dresser that Simona, her husband James, and Skylar share.
The Darbys say they had nowhere else to go after they gave Decker Randolph $6,500 for a down payment and fees to try and buy their dream home at 3501 Rue Collette.
The house is a four bedroom, three bath, two-story house that looks a little rough around the edges. It needs sweat equity that the Darbys say they were willing to put into it.
“I was letting everybody know, like y'all, I'm having a house warming party! Y'all can come over. And there's no home and now we're living with my mom and it's really crowded over there,” Simona said choking back tears.
The Anderson Family
Tomeka Anderson filed complaints with the Consumer Fraud Protection Division of the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office and she filed a criminal complaint against Randolph with the NOPD. In them, she says Randolph took $11,000 from her to help her buy a home. But when the deal fell through, Anderson says in the police report that refused to return her money, even after her attorney sent him a demand letter.
With a couple of hits on her credit from unpaid medical bills when she was younger, Anderson says Randolph promised to not only help her buy a house, but improve her credit score.
“That's the number one goal as an adult is being able to provide a stable foundation for your children,” Anderson said.
She’s a hard-working, single mom to four daughters with four very different personalities. The family of five is currently living in a Hollygrove half-double.
Anderson thought she would be moving into a two-story home on the west bank a year and a half ago.
“I started picking out cabinets, going to Home Depot, flooring and everything,” she said.
In fact, Anderson says Randolph brought an unidentified contractor with them to look at some of the fixer-uppers so they could formulate a more realistic asking price.
But the deals on every house she wanted to buy kept falling through.
“They [her children] still ask me when are we moving in? And we don't have a house to really move into,” Anderson said through tears.
Katie Moore investigates Faithful Real Estate, a company that some say is a real estate scam.
She and Darby both signed contracts to join Randolph’s no credit check home buyer program.
Both say they paid $600 up front to sign up, then ended up giving Randolph more money for down payments and other fees, like earnest money.
Anderson said she heard about Randolph's program from a local loan officer, so she thought it was the answer she was looking for.
Anderson says Randolph told her his company would buy the home of her choice, let her move in and make interest-only payments to him for three years before re-financing the home through a traditional lender and putting it in her name.
In the process of trying to buy the house, Anderson says Randolph repeatedly asked for more money.
“I said ok. But this is my cushion. I have to try to rebuild from scratch in case anything happens with [her children] or my vehicle. I won't have anything. And he said, I know, T, I know. But in order for you to get this house, we need to submit the offer. After I gave him my cushion, that was it,” Anderson said.
$11,000 was her cushion, her savings. And now she has no savings and no home. She says Randolph won't return her calls.
Randolph was supposed to stand trial on a felony theft charge in Anderson’s case in May.
According to court records, Randolph didn't show up for trial.
We wanted to talk to him, so our producer Mary called him up.
“I read a little bit about the no credit check home buyer program but I wanted to talk to you about it and get some more information about it. Like how does it work,” Mary asked him during their first phone conversation.
Within 24 hours, Randolph texted Mary numerous homes to look at. After two more conversations and a number of texts exchanged asking if she was ready to sign up, Randolph agreed to meet Mary at a West Bank coffee shop.
Randolph showed up on foot, two hours late.
“How does this work, like is it in my name? Is the house in my name? I would be in our name for the first three years,” Mary asked Randolph.
He gave her a similar pitch to the one Darby and Anderson say they received from him.
“If it falls through, how long will it be until I get my money back?" Mary asked.
"The next day,” Randolph said.
When asked how Randolph describes his real estate deals, Randolph said, “Basically I would just you know, call it what I call it. I like to do what I do. And this is not a scam. People say it is. But I'm not. Scammers don't call people back.”
But Darby and Anderson say he stopped calling them back when they demanded their money back.
Randolph said he had worked out a payment plan with Anderson as a form of restitution before his trial, something reflected in court records. But Anderson says Randolph has never made a payment.
Court records also show Randolph didn’t show up for his trial in May and hasn’t made an appearance in court since.
He currently has at least two warrants out for his arrest, for not showing up for trial in New Orleans, and for not paying the restitution to two people in Jefferson Parish after he pleaded guilty to theft over $1,500 for stealing from them under a similar ‘program’.
Randolph said his company, Faithful Real Estate Properties, has purchased the homes for the program, but a search of assessor and conveyance records shows no evidence of either Randolph or Faithful Real Estate Properties buying or owning a home in Jefferson or Orleans parishes.
When questioned about it, Randolph replied, “We get a lot of wholesales.”
But wholesaling homes, or transferring a contract on a house to another buyer at a profit, doesn't get people like Anderson and Darby into a home.
Text messages sent to Mary indicate Randolph was ready and willing to sign Mary up for his program. And Randolph says he’s building a subdivision at an unknown location called “Decker Place.”
Pictures of what he calls “My construction office” are actually shots of an unrelated construction site in Maryland. The portable office company that posted them in its website confirmed Randolph is using them without permission.
The law and the courts clearly have not been able to stop Randolph.
“It's just too much,” Darby said rubbing her forehead with tears trickling down her cheeks.
When asked whether she would sue to get her money back, Darby replied, “If they can't catch the guy now and he has warrants out for his arrest, why hire a lawyer?”
Anderson is just as frustrated. She worked long days as a New Orleans Police Officer to make the money she says she paid Randolph.
“I sleep like three to four hours,” a night she said.
“Please believe I'm no devil. I’ve made mistakes in the past. I'm learning from those mistakes, but I always reach my goals and I'm gonna live my dreams. And I'm sorry for what happened to these people that I was so into it, of course I am. Am I rectifying it? Of course I am,” Randolph said.
So, what about the dreams of the people who sign up for Randolph’s program?
“Mines right now is on the back burner. My goal is to help those people who can't help they selves,” he said.
Darby and Anderson are not the only people complaining about Randolph and Faithful Real Estate Properties.
Randolph pleaded guilty to stealing more than 20-thousand dollars from two people in Jefferson Parish.
In all, WWL-TV has documented 14 victims across four states.