Some Collin County residents have been offered money to buy houses in the past year, but law enforcement officials say much attention should be paid to the devilish details of those deals.

Huge mortgage loans are taken out in the investors' names with the understanding that the promoter will pay mortgage payments and other costs. The borrower gets a big check when the deal is sealed.

Glenn C. Hardesty, a long-haul trucker from Nebraska, wound up bankrupt after becoming entangled in a fraudulent real estate investment scheme in Collin County.

Court records show that Bryce Lynn Boelman, 41, of McKinney and Allen Lee Lockett, 35, of Frisco used Mr. Hardesty as a "straw borrower" last year to obtain more than $3.3 million in mortgage loans from 10 lenders in seven states.

Mr. Hardesty's name went on the deeds as owner of record, and he wound up responsible for mortgage payments. Mr. Boelman and Mr. Lockett had told him they would take care of the payments.

Mr. Hardesty filed for bankruptcy court protection from creditors in October, listing $3.28 million in debt - most of it tied to 11 residences purchased in McKinney, Dallas, Plano, Garland and Murphy.

He won a discharge from his debts in February after reporting that his net monthly income from trucking was $3,731 and that his monthly expenses on the 11 houses totaled more than $25,000.

Christopher Lee Milner, an assistant district attorney who prosecutes white-collar crime cases in Collin County, said Mr. Hardesty is not a target in the continuing investigation.

Prosecutors have recommended that Mr. Boelman and Mr. Lockett both be handed a 10-year term of deferred adjudication that, if completed successfully, will allow them to avoid conviction on organized-crime charges.

Mr. Lockett is serving concurrent six-year prison terms on two convictions for making false statements to obtain mortgage loans. He also was fined $20,000.

All of the properties in their case have been foreclosed. If lenders can't recover all of their money, Mr. Boelman and Mr. Lockett will be required by court order to repay any losses.

In a second continuing investigation, three members of a Plano family pleaded guilty in July to fraud in connection with more than $6 million in mortgage loans.

Court records and officials of a Plano mortgage company say Darrell Wayne Dowden, 41, his 32-year-old wife, Tiffany Winkler Dowden, and her mother, 51-year-old Veronica Lindsey Winkler, recruited straw borrowers for 41 mortgage loans.

The defendants allegedly raked in tens of thousands of dollars in commissions and fees from each of those loans, or used a false financial statement to obtain a loan.

When the three family members pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in the investigation, only one of the 41 mortgage loans had been foreclosed. Additional foreclosures have occurred since, and the defendants are required to make up any lender losses.

If they abide by the terms of their plea agreements, including the requirement for repaying losses, the Dowdens and Ms. Winkler will face 10 years of probation rather than prison.

Mr. Roach said any investor should think hard before agreeing to accept cash sums of $5,000 to $10,000 in return for signing as a borrower on a mortgage loan for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"Nothing is free," he said. "There's a hook every time. There's somebody out there making money, but it's not the investor. If it were me, I'd turn around and run away as fast as I could."

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