Kyle Lagow, 50
On a crusade since: 2005
Day job: Unemployed appraiser
Achievement: Blew the whistle on inflated home appraisals and got prosecutors' attention
Why he's a hero: A longtime Texas appraiser, Lagow first complained in 2005 about the way his employer, owned by lender Countrywide Financial, was puffing up valuations. Let go in 2008, he filed a whistleblower lawsuit the next year. His suit and others led to a $1 billion mortgage-fraud settlement this year by Bank of America, which bought Countrywide in 2008. Lagow's cut for launching his case: $14.6 million.
Quote: "It's naive to think a bank could own an appraiser and not pressure it to raise values."
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