Business Notes: Fraud

Hard Times for A Real J.R.

His stellar rise was too good to be true. Only eight years ago Texan J.R. McConnell drove a beat-up Camaro, hawked cameras on street corners and dabbled in real estate. But after a string of deals worthy of Dallas' J.R. Ewing, McConnell's jalopy gave way to private jets and limousines, and he became a top Galveston developer.

Now the real J.R. is back on the skids: the FBI has accused McConnell of masterminding the largest title scam in U.S. banking history. The agency alleges that he and five Houston financiers used property they did not own as collateral to secure more...