Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press

A Fenton man pleaded guilty today to running a massive mortgage fraud scheme that cost lenders more than $100 million in losses — some of which was used to buy cars, boats, trips and a helicopter for several con-artists who were in on the scam, according to authorities.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said the ringleader, Ronnie Edward Duke, 45, ran a nearly four-year scheme with eight others that involved more than 500 fraudulent mortgage loans, more than 100 straw buyers, and roughly 180 residential properties in metro Detroit. The properties were used as, or falsely portrayed as, collateral for the loans, most of which went into default and foreclosure, authorities said.

The loans ranged from $350,000 to $600,000, triggering more than $100 million in losses to the lenders.

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