People bought houses they couldn't afford because the people who were supposed to be "experts" told them they actually could afford the payments. I doubt anyone thought, "I know we can't make these payments for more than a few months, but lets throw all that money down the toilet anyway." The family across the street were told by two different banks and multiple realtors that they could afford that house, that it was entirely within their means, and that lots of other people even less qualified then them were buying houses. No one learns how to make a budget any more, and schools long ago gave up teaching financial literacy, I only blame them for being gullible. Now it belongs to the bank and sits empty.
Other than that, I pretty much agree. No, it wasn't "just a few people", there were thousands involved, a very large percentage of which knowingly and willingly broke laws in order to enrich themselves. Almost none of them are going to jail.