Holland Family allegedly scammed, forced out of home

HOLLAND, Mich. - A local family of five says they were left out in the cold after someone allegedly took money from a church and posed as a landlord. 

Arkeeta and Brandon Wade told FOX 17 News they moved into their new home, opened presents with their kids on Christmas, and woke up days later to find out their new home was still on the market. The family was forced to move out and they're currently living with friends because of the alleged scam. 

"It was Christmas Eve, the home was unlocked and we spent Christmas there," Wade said. "The front door, back door, and garage were all unlocked. Heat was on, electricity and everything was ready to go."

The Wades say Christ Memorial Reformed Church cut them a check for $1,300, a gesture of goodwill the church is known for doing, helping families in need get into a warm home. Brandon Wade says they trusted a man by the name of Felipe Villareal, saying he claimed to own some properties and could help.

"They (Christ Memorial) donated $1,300 towards us moving into a home, he (Villareal) went and picked up the check and told the church we'd sign the lease right after, but we never heard from him after that," Arkeeta Wade said. 

It turns out that Villareal did not own the property he was trying to rent. However, he contacted the Wades after weeks of excuses and gave them the address to 127 Great Northern Lane in Holland. Wade says he thought the check cleared and moved in on Christmas Eve.

"We spent Christmas Day there and opened presents with the kids, only to wake up up find out the payment never went through. Went straight to the police," Wade said.

Felipe Villareal did not give us permission to use his voice but told FOX 17 over the phone he planned on giving back the $1,300 dollars to the church, giving no explanation as to why he told the Wades he owned the property.

Wade is in the process of filing a civil suit against Villareal for money spent on hotels he claims Villareal promised to reimburse him for. 

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  • Scott Ewing

    I’ve been a landlord for 24 years and the FIRST thing you do is to view the property. Secondly you fill out an application and return it to the landlord’s place of business. If you pass the background check, then you sign the lease and move in within a reasonable period of time. In my case, I have my leases on carbonless, so sign them at the rental property and they take immediate possession.