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NV Is Fraud Ground Zero

Las Vegas-What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas, according to the U.S. attorney for the state of Nevada.

Contradicting the popular catch line used to promote tourism here, Gregory Brower said that the statement isn't true when it comes to mortgage fraud.

"Nevada and Las Vegas are ground zero for fraud, and Reno is no slouch, either," he told the Mortgage Bankers Association's National Fraud Issues Conference.

Perhaps because of the get-rich-quick mentality that is so prevalent in the Silver State and its gambling meccas, Mr. Brawley said it's no surprise to him that scam artists are drawn to Vegas and environs.

"I hate to admit it because I grew up here, but it's a mecca for fraudsters, and a magnet for fraud," he said.

Appointed by President George W. Bush late last year after serving as general counsel at the Government Printing Office in Washington, DC, Mr. Brawley cited the unprecedented growth in housing here as a major reason fraud has prospered.

"I always thought the other shoe would drop," he said. "Now it has and here we are."

He told the conference that Las Vegas, with one foreclosure for every 60 households, leads the country in that category.

And fellow gaming mecca Reno, with one repossession for each 108 households, ranks eighth.

The large number of repos here "is not entirely caused by fraud," he said, "but it's a significant part of the problem."

The U.S. attorney also admitted that while law enforcement officials "are trying to get ahead of the problem," fraud has become such a big enterprise that he's not sure anybody in law enforcement can.

"We're just scratching the surface," he conceded.

"The problem will get bigger before it gets smaller, and we're likely to be very, very busy for months and years to come."

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