``The Securities and Exchange Commission is probing how Washington Mutual Inc., the nation's largest savings and loan, handled mortgages that were possibly based on inflated home appraisals....Shares of WaMu have dropped about 65 percent since mid-September, following some dismal financial disclosures and a lawsuit filed in November by New York's attorney general against one of its real estate appraisers, alleging the companies colluded to inflate home values.''

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