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Ex-mortgage broker cited in fraud case

Allegedly hatched plan to bilk investor out of nearly $35,000

– A former Fort Wayne mortgage broker was charged with securities fraud Wednesday, accused of bilking a single investor out of $34,342.

In addition to the charge of securities fraud, Randy G. Ridenour, 48, of the 9500 block of Yellow River Road, also faces a charge of theft.

According to court documents, Ridenour sold a fraudulent investment to Randall Striggle between January and December 2009.

Ridenour told Striggle he had an investment opportunity that would pay a 23 percent annual return over a two-year period, with monthly dividend payments of $1,000.

Striggle removed $37,342 from an investment account with a brokerage firm and gave it to Ridenour to invest in the “TMC Fund.”

Using stationery belonging to a now-defunct company, Trinity Mortgage and Insurance, Ridenour made it appear that he was Striggle’s agent, court documents said. He also included a document that appeared to be an account statement, which indicated a “growth index” of 23 percent, with an overall investment growth of $12,158, according to court documents.

But there was no “TMC Fund,” and Ridenour wasn’t licensed to sell securities in Indiana.

When questioned by police, Ridenour said he wasn’t selling securities but was “merely helping out a friend by investing some money for him,” according to court documents.

“However, during the interview, Ridenour was unable to identify any specific investment he made on Striggle’s behalf,” investigators wrote in the probable cause affidavit.

Bank records indicated that, other than the $5,000 Ridenour used to pay off one of Striggle’s debts, the rest of the money was used to satisfy Ridenour’s business and personal financial obligations, according to court documents.

Ridenour was employed at Trinity Mortgage and Insurance, a company that has since gone out of business. In 2008, the Securities Division of the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office revoked the company’s loan broker license.

According to securities division documents, the company employed an unregistered principal manager and that a “substantial threat of immediate irreparable harm exists.”

Federal court records indicate Ridenour filed for bankruptcy in 2010, citing, among other debts, $20,000 owed to the IRS. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development filed a claim against the bankruptcy for $3,480 in unemployment compensation fraudulently paid to Ridenour while he was working for Trinity Mortgage, according to court documents.

This month, he was hired by Academy Mortgage, which is managed by Nick Staker.

Staker said he was made aware of the criminal charges Wednesday and fired Ridenour immediately.