Officials in 49 states launch foreclosure probe, 2nd-Ld

Attorneys general in 49 states have launched a joint investigation into allegations that mortgage companies mishandled documents and broke laws in foreclosing on hundreds of thousands of homeowners.

The officials say the probe will focus on XXXXX

Four large lenders already have halted questionable foreclosures after evidence emerged that bank employees processed thousands of foreclosure documents without reading them. Other banks have not done so, saying they did nothing wrong.

The attorneys general could ultimately force the mortgage industry to revamp the way they handle foreclosures, pay penalties for violations and expand help to homeowners on the verge of foreclosure.