Better tech makes fake IDs harder to detect
It used to be that students would borrow an ID from an older sibling or friend who vaguely resembled them. As technology got cheaper, students could produce fake IDs in dorm rooms with a computer, printer, laminating machine and a few blank cards.
Now, “kids can get on some fake ID website, send in money and a picture and get it in two weeks,” said Champaign Police Sgt. Joe Ketchem, who manages the department’s alcohol enforcement unit.
That ease of access has brought an upsurge in fake IDs over the last two or three years, some officials say, and police have stepped up their enforcement efforts in response.
“We’ve turned over as many as 50 IDs a week,” Meyer said.
Some of those are “misused” IDs, real licenses borrowed by an underage drinker from a brother, friend or alumnus. Ketchem has a box full of those in his office, roughly 2,000, from the last two years. But he also has a stack of fakes, from Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, even Montana and Arizona.
The state has tried to stay one step ahead of the forgers by embedding more than a dozen security features in Illinois driver’s licenses and ID cards. There’s a hologram of the state seal, features seen only in ultraviolet light (blacklight), scannable fake ids microtext visible only with a magnifying glass, and a “laser retrievable” element.
If you shine a laser pen at a certain spot on the card, the letter “I” will “levitate up against the wall,” said Henry Haupt, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office. “As you might imagine, a feature of that nature would be extremely difficult to reproduce fraudulently.”
One goal of the security features is to design something that is technologically sound but also user friendly for business owners, he said.
Through its “Operation Straight ID” program, the state works with local police to teach bar owners and businesses how to spot the fakes, Haupt said.
“To the naked eye, they maybe wouldn’t look that bad,” Haupt said. “A professional should be able to tell the difference.”
But the fakes have gotten better, too. Some even have holograms and UV symbols.
Still, Ketchem said, “They can’t quite get everything right.”
The font is usually off. The fake cards are thinner. The photos have obviously been trimmed with a knife before being reproduced. Some holograms say “genuine authentic and real” instead of the state motto.
“Sometimes the card isn’t rigid enough. The photo may be bigger than usual. Sometimes they don’t use a real state logo, or the edges are marred or smudged, scannable fake ids ” Meyer said.
Many of the fakes come from websites based outside the United States, including China, making enforcement difficult, officials say. The cards had been ordered by college students. Postal Service and Secretary of State Police resulted in a dozen arrests; the students were charged with attempted unlawful possession of a fraudulent identification card, which carries a fine of up to $500 or 50 hours of community service and possible one year suspension of driving privileges. Customs. Department of Homeland Security to arrest two people on felony charges related to fraudulent identification cards. It boasts that its cards have “high resolution printing, fully scannable 2d bar code, UV/Blacklight, identical feel,” and offers “100 percent secure offshore servers” and “discreet priority USPS shipping.”
“Yes we’re 100% real, and no we’re not a scam,” the website says.
It shows examples of its products, including an Illinois ID with a hologram and what looks like a photo of a young Woody Harrelson.
“Our fakes replicate the actual ID about 80 90% spot on, and could most likely pass in state,” the site says. “These are hand made to the T, and perfected every single time. You will be paying for a high quality fake.”
A video space on the site reads only: “This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy on depiction of harmful activities.”
Police have uncovered some local ID making operations in recent years, including a 19 year old UI student convicted in 2013 of unlawful use of identification after officers found blank ID cards, clear state of Illinois seals and syringes for filling printer ink cartridges in his dorm room. scannable fake ids He was sentenced to two weeks in jail and paid $3,400 in fines and court costs.