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US: Towering fraud: newspaper steals Empire State Building

04 Dec 2008 3:32 AM

NEW YORK, Dec 3 AFP - City crime is one thing, but a New York tabloid upped the ante on Wednesday -- stealing the entire Empire State Building.

The Daily News claimed it had pocketed the 102-storey Art Deco icon by filing fraudulent documents with the city register to expose New York's dangerously lax system for recording property.

According to the News, the "heist" took just 90 minutes. Then they returned the building to its real owners, Empire State Land Associates.

The phoney documents were made even more laughable by appearing in the names of legendary bank robber Willie Sutton and original King Kong movie star Fay Wray.

"The massive ripoff illustrates a gaping loophole in the city's system for recording deeds, mortgages and other transactions," the News said.

"Of course, stealing the Empire State Building wouldn't go unnoticed for long, but it shows how easy it is for con artists to swipe more modest buildings right out from under their owners. Armed with a fraudulent deed, they can take out big mortgages and disappear," the News warned.