For anyone who wants a phony pay stub or doctored tax return, an easy source is just a click away.

A website called claims it can provide “fake bank statements” as well as “fake pay stubs,” “fake utility bills” and “fake US tax returns (1040).” They’re readily available for as low as $50 each.

It may seem like a joke. But as the U.S. government pursues billions of dollars in fraud tied to Congress’s pandemic-relief measures, a common thread has emerged: The people who stole taxpayer money did it using bogus documents. And those are easily obtained on websites that are fully functional across the internet.

“Sites like this are designed to create documents that evade automated fraud detection tools, and even human underwriters,” said Jesse Carlson, general counsel of commercial-finance lender Kapitus, and a former counsel in the professional liability and financial crimes section of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

When Congress authorized as much as $669 billion in forgivable pandemic loans from the Small Business Administration two years ago, a large chunk of that money disappeared into the hands of bad actors who claimed to run businesses in need of funds. The U.S. Justice Department is throwing more resources into identifying and prosecuting these fraudsters, with the Secret Service estimating that more than $100 billion has been stolen from a range of programs under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act.

The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program was particularly susceptible to fraud because banks were urged to quickly get money out to prevent the pandemic from causing an economic crisis. Under the administration’s rules, lenders were “held harmless for borrowers’ failure to comply with program criteria” as part of its goal of acting expeditiously.

Banks could thus suspend their normal due diligence, setting up “one of the top frauds of all time,” said BJ Moravek, a former Secret Service agent and bank examiner.

“I haven’t seen anything that overshadows this,” Moravek, who started his career in the 1990s tracking down “prime bank guarantee” bonds, fictitious instruments peddled by con artists to gullible investors, said of CARES Act scams.

Few of the CARES Act court filings identify how the defendants secured their doctored paperwork. But Moravek, now a director at the Kaufman Rossin accounting firm, pointed to websites such as as examples of just how easily these frauds are perpetrated.

The site promotes a range of paperwork, some touted merely as “educational financial novelties.” It offers authentic-looking documents from scores of lenders to create bank statements that look like they originated from giants like Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co., as well as smaller institutions like Nevada State Bank and Bethpage Federal Credit Union.

Buyers can also get utility bills, frequently used for address verification, that look like they are from the likes of Florida Power & Light, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and London-based National Grid. (For U.K. customers, the website has a separate list of British, European and Australasian banks.)

The website, which claims to have been in business since 2006, currently operates as Bankus in the U.S. and Banksy in the U.K. Its roots are murky: The company claims to have offices in New York and London, but it doesn’t provide a physical address or phone number. Bankus doesn’t appear to be registered in New York state as a business.

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