Feds bust fake document companies

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Feds bust fake document companies


Unread post by Caped Crusader » Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:45 pm

Feds bust fake document companies
Bill Moak, Consumer Watch Published 6:00 a.m. CT Sept. 24, 2018

Photo by: Bill Moak(Photo: Sarah Warnock/Clarion Ledger)

In the movies and TV, it’s usually easy to procure fake documents. Such transactions often involve dealing with sketchy people in dark alleys or grungy apartments. Often, the stereotypical customer is a teenager looking for a fake ID to buy alcohol, or someone desperate to hide and looking to start a new life. But those images bear little resemblance to reality; the real purveyors of fake documents today hide behind professional websites, aided by technology such as high-quality printers and editing software.

A Google search for fake document sites will reveal hundreds of websites promising to make you copies of birth certificates, passports, immigration papers, pay stubs, medical statements and pretty much any type of document you want. To provide an air of legitimacy to the enterprise, many sites use the words “novelty” or “entertainment,” as if to reassure you that it’s just for fun. But purveyors of false documents are not looking for a laugh; they make their millions by forging documents designed to help people fool the system, and in many cases, victimize others.

Identity theft is not the only problem with fake documents; they can also be used to apply for credit or credit cards; to get fraudulent government assistance; to get jobs; to rip off insurance companies and to prove false claims of residency.

The fake document industry, though, was put on notice last week when the Federal Trade Commission shut down several companies after investigating charges that they’d sold customers various types of documents designed to facilitate identity theft and other crimes. In separate cases, the agency alleged that Katrina Moore, Steven Simmons and George Jiri Strand II and their affiliated companies “operated websites that sold customers a variety of fake financial and other documents — such as pay stubs, income tax forms and medical statements — which can be used to facilitate identity theft, tax fraud and other crimes.”

According to the FTC, Moore and her business, Innovative Paycheck Solutions, sold various financial documents on her website, FakePayStubOnline.com. But it wasn’t just fake pay stubs for sale; other items included bank statements and profit-and-loss statements for prices ranging from $40 (for a fake, personalized pay stub) to $150 for false tax returns.

Simmons and his business, Integrated Flight Solutions LLC, was accused of selling “a variety of financial, identity and medical documents including pay stubs, auto insurance cards, utility and cable bills, doctor’s excuses, and medical absence reports” on his website NoveltyExcuses.com from 2013 through 2017. On the website, the company allegedly admitted the documents were fake but looked authentic, saying it could provide “Quality Authentic Fake Forms! Proven to Work!”

The agency also accused the company of operating another site, IverifyMe.com, which conveniently offered to verify the faked employment information provided through its other websites.

“The sale of fake documents makes it easy for identity thieves and scammers to ply their trade,” said Andrew Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This action demonstrates the FTC’s determination to stop those who help people to commit identity theft and fraud.”

Detecting fake documents is hard; the technology to create authentic-looking documents has successfully fooled even sophisticated detection systems. Recently, Fast Company magazine’s Steven Melendez wrote about new technology that can successfully spot fakes, using high-tech software and scanning technology to analyze and compare documents. But, Melendez points out, scammers are likely to respond with ever-better technologies, leading to a sort of arms race. “It’s kind of a cat and mouse game, when the mouse is smart,” noted New York University computer professor Nasir Memon in Melendez’ article.

Fake documents undermine trust and make it more difficult for everybody. Ultimately, we all pay the price.

Contact Bill Moak at moakconsumer@gmail.com.

https://www.clarionledger.com/story/new ... 363608002/

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