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NY AG sues Trump, children for 'astounding' fraud

STORY: Former U.S. President Donald Trump and his adult children were sued on Wednesday...

for what New York state's attorney general called numerous acts of fraud...

accusing the family of misstating the values of real estate properties to obtain favorable loans and tax benefits.

The move by Letitia James marks one of the biggest legal blows yet for the former president.

"The pattern of fraud and deception that was used by Mr Trump and the Trump organization for their own financial benefit is astounding."

The former president’s sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, as well as his daughter Ivanka Trump are also named as defendants in the suit.

As well as the Trump Organization - a family company that manages hotels, golf courses and other real estate around the world

At issue is how the company prepared Trump’s annual statements of financial condition over the decade ending in 2021.

James says Trump inflated his net worth by billions.

"Claiming you have money that you do not have does not amount to the art of the deal. It’s the art of the steal."

During the contentious three-year investigation, James said her office uncovered more than 200 examples of misleading asset valuations on nearly two dozen assets.

In one case, she said the former president tried to make it look like his apartment in Trump Tower was nearly triple its actual square footage.

"Tripling the size of the apartment for purposes of the valuation was intentional and deliberate: fraud. Not an honest mistake."

James also said Trump valued his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida as high as $739 million by pretending it could be developed for residential use, when he knew there were restrictions.

James said Mar-a-Lago should have been valued closer to $75 million.

"No one is above the law."

James also wants Trump and his children permanently barred from running any companies in New York...

and Trump and his organization banned from doing real estate deals for five years.

In a social media post, the former Republican president called the lawsuit "another Witch Hunt" and launched a personal attack on James, who is a Democrat.

Trump is considering running for president again in 2024.

He's at the center of a number of probes, including a court-approved search of his Mar-a-Lago estate over handling of records, and a Georgia investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

He has also denied wrongdoing.

This lawsuit was civil, meaning it did not involve criminal charges.

Still, James says she’ll refer allegations of criminal wrongdoing to federal prosecutors and the Internal Revenue Service.