Within months, he found his first victim: Elsa Erarte, a single mother who worked at Walgreens in Miami. Rolle pocketed a $16,000 down payment she had given him while he was supposed to help her find a home, saying it was nonrefundable.
She sued Rolle in Miami-Dade Circuit Court and got her money back in a judgment in 2004. ''It was all the money she had,'' recalled her attorney, Joel Friedman. ''She had spent years saving it.''
But the court case didn't stop Rolle.
The 53-year-old loan salesman went on to cheat four more borrowers through a variety of means: pocketing their down payments, skimming from their loans, and selling their homes without their approval, court records state.
''The guy was a consummate con artist,'' said Joseph Wilson, an investigator for the Office of Financial Regulation, who referred the case to police. ''He had the ability to gain people's confidence by saying what people wanted to hear.''
In 2005, the Miami-Dade County state attorney's office finally prosecuted Rolle as a habitual offender on fraud charges -- for ripping off Erarte and others. A judge gave him a year in jail.
Under state law, there is nothing to stop loan originators convicted of ripping off borrowers from returning to the industry.
Because they aren't licensed, there are no records of discipline or past crimes involving money or moral turpitude -- and no files for public inspection.
Bernard Williams, who pleaded guilty to stealing $6,000 from two elderly women -- the bills ripped from the seams of their clothes -- said he found the easiest route to sell home loans by becoming a loan originator in 2001.
''I didn't have a problem getting in,'' he told The Miami Herald.
Williams, 54, said he decided to sell loans because the market was booming and he knew that ''there was money to be made.'' Over the next five years, he worked for three separate lenders.
But while he was writing loans for dozens of working-class families, he and several co-conspirators were accused by Florida's attorney general of fleecing 80 people of nearly $2 million, according to a civil fraud suit filed in Broward County Circuit Court in January.
The suit says Williams, who has not been criminally charged, joined others in a scheme to siphon money from loans designed to save people from losing their homes. Like Pamela Simmons, several claim that Williams put their homes up for sale without their permission. He and others then pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in profits in each case by charging inflated fees, the suit alleges.
''I worked hard -- three jobs -- to get that house,'' said Simmons, 40, who has five children.
Williams insists he did nothing wrong, saying the suit will be resolved in his favor. ''This is all a headache,'' said Williams, who continues to work as a loan originator in North Miami-Dade.
He refused to talk about his guilty plea in 1994 for stealing from two elderly women, drawing a 30-day sentence and five years of probation.
As the housing boom exploded in 2001, so did the number of people rushing into the mortgage industry, with loan originators leading the way. But as their numbers rose each year -- 66 a day in 2005 -- so did the number of former criminals.
With home sales rising more than 20 percent a year in parts of Florida, mortgage companies were hiring loan originators at an unprecedented rate, state records show.