Skip to comments.Fake IDs are going high-tech
Posted on 08/15/2011 9:00:44 AM PDT by raccoonradio
DARTMOUTH The Massachusetts driver's license had the typical hologram, watermarks and barcode.
A scanning machine told the cashier at Town Liquors that the license was legitimate, so the customer was "OK to purchase" liquor.
Only one problem, though the license was fake.
"It was an absolutely amazing ID. It was very well done," said Yogi Patel, owner of Town Liquors, located less than a mile from the UMass Dartmouth campus.
For about $200, someone today can upload his or her picture and basic information into a website, and receive two fake IDs a few days later from companies in China that even encode information into the card's magnetic strip.
"To insert the data is very hard to do. ... You could even go on an airplane using these," said Patel, who showed a visitor a stack of fake IDs he has confiscated from young people looking to buy a case of beer or a bottle of hard liquor.
Fanned out on a table, Patel showed a sample of the 300 fake IDs he has collected, purporting to be licenses from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The untrained eye cannot tell they are fakes, and, often, neither can modern technology. The high-tech fake IDs are even indistinguishable from authentic licenses under ultraviolet light used by the Transportation Security Administration.
Federal authorities have intercepted fraudulent driver's licenses in international mail arriving in Chicago and Cincinnati. But countless fake IDs have still reached Web-savvy college and high school students.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said last week that he wants the Department of Homeland Security to block cash payments to Chinese manufacturers of high-tech fake drivers' licenses.
Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of Immigration and Custom Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in Boston, said federal authorities have seen an uptick in Web sites dedicated to selling fake IDs. Many of the fake licenses arrive from overseas during college spring break and vacation times.
Foucart said authorities have visited college campuses in New England to speak with students about the risks involved in these schemes.
"It's buyer beware. Some of these kids are getting ripped off. They've given half of their personal information, their date of births, pictures, credit card numbers. Who knows what these organizations are doing with these kids' information?" Foucart said.
Because of the fake IDs' sophistication, Foucart said it is likely that organized crime syndicates are operating these schemes.
"It's more of a problem than what it was five years ago," Foucart said.
Foucart said it costs around $5 to manufacture one fake ID, so the manufacturers are selling them at a markup over 100 percent.
There are serious national security risks. Foucart noted that someone with a fake ID can open a line of credit, and obtain other official documents such as passports. A fugitive from justice could attain a fake driver's license, with a new name and date of birth.
As federal authorities have increasingly seized fake IDs, the organized crime syndicates have adapted their smuggling approaches, Foucart said. They will label the packages as electronics, or they may route the package through the Middle East to avoid detection.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission has used some of the fake IDs from Patel's store for training purposes.
"They're really good," said Patel, who has been encountering fake IDs ever since he opened his store 11 years ago, when the usual scenario was still someone trying to buy beer with an older sibling's license.
However, Patel has spotted one tell-tale difference.
Under a magnifying glass, the small print on the back of a fake license is a bit fuzzy, while a real license's print is crisp.
"They made it perfect, but not all the way," Patel said.
There are other clues.
Patel asks questions the customers do not expect, and will sometimes have them write their signature.
Body language is another key. If the person is anxious, avoids eye contact, or seems too outgoing, Patel's suspicions are raised.
"It's a big responsibility on my shoulders. I live in this community. I'm a parent. I don't want a drunk driver hitting my kids," said Patel, who screens every customer when UMass Dartmouth is in session.
Underage college students in the past have been charged with trying to buy alcohol at the store.
When his staff confirms a fake ID, Patel said he confiscates it, and tells the would-be customer to leave. They often complain, but few return with proof that their licenses were real.
"We're not afraid to say, 'Get out of here,'" said Patel, who declines to report them to police.
"They're not criminals. I'm not looking to penalize their parents, and get them thrown out of college," he said.
In Massachusetts, someone convicted of possessing a fake ID faces a $200 fine and three months in jail.
While liquor store owners are not required to report fake IDs to law enforcement, Dartmouth Police Detective Robert Levinson said it is still a good idea.
"I think a phone call would be an appropriate thing to do, just so we can document the incident, and maybe follow up with their guardian to make sure they don't do it again," Levinson said.
"It's good (Patel) is taking the extra time to examine the authenticity of the documents. We wish more liquor store employees would take that initiative. ... But it's something we would like to follow up on.
"If they're out with a fake ID, who knows what else they've used it for," Levinson said.
Then there are fake social security numbers. These were given out a couple decades ago, to illegal aliens, by the administration of then-gov. Michael Dukakis.
from an 09 Howie Carr column:
>>The Duke [Dukakis] will fit in perfectly in Obama’s Washington. This is the guy whose welfare department gave phony Social Security numbers to illegal aliens so they could go on the dole. Dukakis’ Medicaid program paid for a sex-change operation for a guy from New Hampshire, then gave him an all-expenses-paid vacation to Montreal for post-op therapy.
HC list ping—AVI NELSON IS ON TODAY
Suhweeeeeeeeeeeeet NOT mcscreamer, goodie, I'll tune in!
Don’t worry, though- they don’t need an ID to vote!
Indeed, not here in MA, where someone else can go to my polling place, give my name and street, and get a ballot WITHOUT BEING ASKED TO SHOW ID. Thankfully it hasn’t happened yet but it could.
Free trade, baby. Just faking the ID’s that American’s won’t fake.
Yes—and enjoy your flight, Mr. Atta...
When I was 17, I drank a very good beer
I drank a very good beer I bought with a fake ID
My name was “Brian McGee”, I sat and listened to Queen
When I was 17
Requiring an ID there would seriously impact the student vote (since there are at least three colleges or universities in every town in MA, I think...).
The student’s all have ID from their home town/state, and would then have only one vote, by absentee, rather than absentee+Cambridge or absentee+Amhearst via student ID.
Back to the article, I wonder if the machines that make the fancy ID’s in the states are made in China? And what about the blank ID’s?
You would be amazed at the level of manufacturing technology we have exported to China.
There’s nothing that is safe in the US from counterfeiting any more. If the PRC didn’t hold such vast quantities of US debt, they’d be counterfeiting US currency.
Think about how much of the US defense infrastructure now used chips made in China... just think about that for a sec. Then ponder “What is actually IN those chips?” It says it is an ethernet controller... but is that ALL it is? Without a scanning electron microscope, you actually have little to no idea.
When I worked in the defense sector in the 80’s, we had US source requirements. We had requirements for native-born US citizens on projects. We had not only background checks, we had security clearances for working on just about anything connected with defense.
Free trade baby. Export our technology wholesale... to communists... and then wonder why our security is swiss cheese.
The US State Department issued a hilarious statement on China fielding their first aircraft carrier. The State Dep’t, even the bright bulbs they are, were wondering “What do you need a carrier for?”
Free trade, baby.
As for the 1-3 pm slot it is now no longer the Michele McPhee show. She starts on Ch 5 on Sept 6 I think but now they
consider her slot to be Brien’s.
From WRKO facebook:
>>The WRKO family would like to welcome Jen Brien to the 680AM airwaves. Tune into Brien’s debut starting at 1 p.m. She will be taking over the 1-3 p.m. spot in our weekday lineup. Click the like button to welcome Jen!
Those smart and clever college kids are merely getting what they deserve.
No sympathy here.
If I were the authorities, I would ignore every complaint they file.
If I were a legitimate card issuer, I would refuse further accounts.