Business: Byzantine Land Fraud

In Florida, where land scandals date back to the 1920s, state officials have uncovered what could be the biggest and most Byzantine fraud of them all. As many as 80,000 investors and buyers of lots may have been bilked of $1 billion by development companies and mortgage brokers in Southern Florida. According to investigators, the Ponzi-like scheme worked this way: the developers bought nearly worthless tracts of land, subdivided them and sold homesites at inflated prices; they used the proceeds to pay high interest on bogus notes sold to investors under a false...

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