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Monday, 8 January, 2001, 20:56 GMT
Brazil con artist sells Amazon rainforest

The authorities in Brazil have begun an investigation into a man who's accused of conning foreigners into buying large areas in the Amazon rainforest with false land titles.

The man Falb Saraiva de Farias is alleged to have sold the land to environmentalists in the United States and Europe, telling them it would be set aside for conservation when it actually belonged to the government.

The Agrarian Reform Ministry said the false land titles covered an area equivalent to the size of Ireland.

Correspondents say the problem of land theft is common in remote parts of Brazil, where unscrupulous dealers have used false papers to appropriate vast amounts of territory without the knowledge of the government.

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