A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has begun probing three of the nation's largest subprime mortgage lenders in the clearest sign yet that prosecutors are investigating whether fraud and other crimes contributed to the mortgage debacle, the L.A. Times reports.

Grand jury subpoenas have been issued in recent weeks and months to Countrywide Financial Corp., New Century Financial Corp. and IndyMac Federal Bank seeking a wide range of information, according to sources with direct knowledge of the subpoenas.

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