American Greed Episode 17: The Bonnie and Clyde of Mortgage Fraud

Case File

The Bonnie and Clyde of Mortgage Fraud

  • Dubious Deals
  • The plan is simple. Assume fake identities, apply for multiple mortgage loans on property you don't own and pocket the money. In a red-hot real estate market "Bonnie and Clyde" swindle the world's biggest banks and make millions!
  • Love Isn't Blind
  • Matt is charming. He likes fast cars, fine homes and beautiful women. The con man is never without an accomplice... a young, pretty single mom. Alison and Rebecca knowingly become his partners in crime ...and eventually pay a high price in prison.
  • Catch Me If You Can
  • Life as a fugitive. Matt leaves behind a trail of broken dreams and empty bank accounts. He travels from Tampa to Atlanta and Nashville. In total he takes $12 million dollars from banks and private lenders… and leaves behind more than 100 victims. The story of how the con man is captured... only on American Greed.

Producer's Notes

  • We spoke with Matthew Bevan Cox, one of the most prolific mortgage fraud con artists of all time, over the phone from a federal prison in Florida. I've done my share of prison interviews, and more often than not, a guy serving what could very well be a life sentence speaks in a tone as flat as frozen tundra. Not Matt Cox. Right away, you're hit with Cox's mile-a-minute speaking style and a natural salesmanship that attracted three different "Bonnies" – young, beautiful women – to become sidekicks to this Clyde Barrow of mortgage fraud.
  • The women had problems: messy divorces, debts, tax liens. Matt Cox said he had the answer: taking millions in bogus mortgages, and then going on the run, buying jewels, fast cars, and lots of plastic surgery.
  • Matt Cox got his start in Tampa, Florida, as a mortgage broker in the sub prime mortgage business. In the days of "liar loans" – no job, no assets, no problem – he learned how to fake his clients' pay stubs and bank statements so any deadbeat could qualify for a $500,000 mortgage. This is too easy, he decided. Why not do this for myself? Cox became a master at identity theft. He assumed more than 50 fake identities, and took out $12 million in mortgages that he had absolutely no intention of ever repaying.
  • Speaking with Cox in prison, it's clear he's still proud of taking all this money from America's biggest banks. He's good at playing the lovable rogue, and you find yourself momentarily being taken in-- until you speak with his victims.
  • Consider the story of Bruce and Bridget Brown. Bruce, a military doctor, had just returned home from a tour in Iraq when Matt Cox entered the Brown's life. His wife Bridget had her hands full caring for their son Colby. He was born with a severe birth defect, and required more than 50 surgeries over the first several years of his life. The Browns were desperate to sell their home and move closer to their son's doctors. But they had a problem - the home sat unsold for months.
  • Then a friend recommended owner financing to improve their odds. Cox -- posing as Gary Sullivan, an identity he had stolen from a homeless man – saw the Brown's offer of owner financing and called a meeting. He agreed to purchase the Brown's home. Then he took out six mortgages on their property and skipped town, leaving the family with a home they couldn't sell and creditors asking questions. To top it off, Bridget and Bruce at the time were literally sleeping on cots in an intensive care unit with their grievously ill son – and Matt Cox knew it when he went in for the kill.
  • Cox wrote a novel called "The Associates" about his exploits. It's about a sub prime mortgage broker turned con artist who steals millions. In the book, the hero gets away on a cruise ship headed for South America. In real life, Cox is serving 26 years in a Florida prison. But he stills loves to brag about his story, probably to his cellmates' chagrin.

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