Fifth Third Bancorp has sued appraisal firms, a title insurance company and alleged straw buyers it says defrauded the bank of more than $10.8 million in transactions involving suburban Detroit-area luxury homes. Fifth Third is seeking damages from 44 people it says were involved in seven of at least 11 fraudulent real estate deals, the Detroit News reported today. The bank has also asked authorities to pursue a criminal investigation. Defendants in the lawsuit include two former Fifth Third employees and Paul J. Nicoletti, the president of Continental Title Insurance Agency Inc. who is said to have had close ties to the bank. Nicoletti denies wrongdoing, saying in a court filing that the bank profited from "a fraudulent scheme that was masterminded by (its own) high-ranking officers and employees," the News reported. Nicoletti said at least seven other Fifth Third employees not named in the lawsuit resigned or were fired over the scheme, a number described as "roughly accurate" by ...
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