Former Century 21 broker ‘will die in prison’ for $10M swindle

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The former broker-owner of Century 21 Apollo Realty in Modesto, Calif., has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for orchestrating an 11-year mortgage fraud scam that defrauded elderly homeowners and lending institutions out of close to $10 million, prosecutors said.

James Lee Lankford, 74, “will die in prison; I’m happy with that,” said John Rivera, whose parents were among the victims, the Modesto Bee reported.

Prosecutors said Lankford convinced elderly homeowners to sell their homes to him, making interest-only payments and promising to pay the principal at a future date. Although the sellers were told financing was secured by the property itself, Lankford also obtained mortgages from lending institutions to finance the purchase of the same properties, prosecutors said. Lankford would then refinance the properties with another lending institution after filing fraudulent deeds that supposedly showed the original property owners had been paid. Lankford would then allow the property to go into foreclosure, or sell it as a short sale.

Lankford’s co-defendant, Jon Vance McDade, 49, was sentenced to one year of home detention and five years of supervised release. McDade and Lankford have married, and McDade is now known as Jon Vance Lankford. Jon Lankford will care for the couple’s four adopted children under a deal worked out with U.S. attorneys, the Bee reported. Source: fbi.gov.

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