SIKESTON -- More than a decade ago, convicted felon Kevin Barnes beat the system and stole more than $124 million. When he was released five years later, in 1997, he went out to beat the system again -- this time undercover.
"I proved that (the mortgage) industry was falling short when it came to training and educating the industry," Barnes said.
He will be the featured speaker at a three-hour forum Aug. 7, sponsored by the Sikeston Board of Realtors.
"We encourage all realtors, brokers, bankers, appraisers, property owners and anyone who is interested in anyway to come," said Myrna Johnson, the Board of Realtors president, who also works at Century 21. She hopes attendees walk away with an "awareness that (mortgage fraud) is going on in our area and ways to confront it and stop it before it happens to them."
Barnes encouraged all "who want to know how to protect themselves from a predator," to come.
Scott County Recorder of Deeds Tom Dirnberger, who has served for two years as president of the Recorders Association of Missouri, said he attended the annual International Association of Clerks Recorders Election Officials and Treasurers Conference in Charlotte, N.C. There, he attended a seminar of land fraud, a nationwide problem.
"Land fraud has been a major problem in Scott County with an estimated 350-400 parcels of land being known to have been involved since November of 2004," Dirnberger said. "The fraud has occurred by either mortgage fraud or by someone stealing one's properties with false signatures."
When considering fraud, Missouri recently rose in the rankings from No. 30 to No. 4. While it has recently dropped to No. 10, he still wants people to be aware of those red flags.
Barnes, who has appeared on the CBS Evening News, said he wants to educate people based on his experiences, not theory. "My background, what I did, how I did it and why I beat the system," he said. "I'll talk about things to look for from the consumer and real estate point of view."
Even in a small town where everyone thinks they know everybody, fraud can still occur and be concealed, Barnes pointed out. "The fraudster doesn't have a face," he said.
If you go:
What: Red Flags of Mortgage Fraud, with speaker Kevin Barnes
When: 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 7
Where: Clinton Building (North end of the Sikeston Sports Complex)
Sponsored by: Sikeston Board of Realtors