TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- During the Florida real estate boom of
the mid-2000s, one of the most lucrative ways to make a living -- or
commit fraud -- was to be a mortgage broker.
More than 82,000 Floridians were licensed just four years ago, but the collapse of the housing market, stronger licensing requirements and background checks and tougher loan requirements have cut that number by roughly 90 percent: the state currently licenses about 10,600 loan originators, as the profession is now called.
Most got out of the business or moved elsewhere. Some of the
small percentage who committed crimes went to prison.
Florida has led the nation in mortgage fraud the pasts two years, accounting for more than 27 percent of all home loans nationally that were investigated in 2010.