REAL ESTATE: The Advance-Fee Game

Ever since Dutchman Peter Minuit euchred the Indians out of Manhattan Island for $24 in beads and trinkets, real estate has been one of the happiest hunting grounds of all for the Great American Confidence Man. Last week in Washington members of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations sat spellbound as witnesses unfolded a vivid account of the latest and biggest real-estate con game: the "advance fee" racket. From its birthplace in Chicago more than five years ago, the racket has expanded to all 48 states until some 70 firms now bilk unwary U.S. property owners of an estimated $25 million-$50...

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