Brent Barber is serving a 12-year federal prison term for masterminding the largest mortgage fraud ever prosecuted in Missouri, says USA Today. He pleaded guilty to a five-year scam that involved nearly 300 properties and victimized more than 80 people. Nationally, mortgage fraud has spread in the past few years, with losses totaling around $1 billion last year, the FBI says. The real estate boom, along with looser lending standards, built an ideal breeding ground for con artists like Barber.
Florida is the No. 1 hot spot for mortgage fraud, followed by Utah, Georgia, Colorado, Illinois, and Missouri. Fraud cases are likely to continue rising this year and next, the Mortgage Asset Research Institute says. Barber, 42, spent more than two hours explaining to a reporter how to find victims, steal from homeowners and lenders, and hide the crimes. Then he offered advice on how to avoid being scammed.