Finding a Fake - Knock Off Week

By Dan Knighton
Photo courtesy of Drew Stephens.

It’s a tough time to be an undocumented immigrant. Or if you were born after 1992, it’s a tough time to be a kid … who wants to buy booze. This year,  lawmakers are getting tough on fake IDs, targeting the people who manufacture them, internationally and domestically.

You could say the recent trend in enforcement started in February, when New York Post reporter Candice Giove bought a fake driver’s license, social security card, and green card on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, New York. The story alarmed media and government alike, and led New York State Senator Jose Peralta to propose a bill making it a felony to manufacture false government documents, including identification.

Luckily, it’s also a tough time to be a terrorist.

“A terrorist plot to do us harm might be hatched in another country thousands of miles from here, but some of the tools to make it happen are being produced right in our own backyard,” Senator Peralta states on his press release published after the bill passed.

The responsible news media were also successful in eliminating threats from overseas. In June, Washington, D.C. local news affiliate WUSA9 broadcasted that one of their reporters successfully ordered a fake ID from idchief.ph, a Chinese Website allegedly popular with teens looking to party. Like the former, the fake was incredibly real, passing UV light testing and the strip scannable by police computer.

Four senators from Iowa and Illinois followed suit, writing a letter to Chinese ambassador Zhang Yesui, asking the Chinese government to “put an end to these companies.” Sure enough, the Website ceased operations within weeks, erasing idchief.ph from the net entirely.

BreakThru Radio spoke briefly with Senator Chuck Grassley’s Communications Manager, Jill Gerber. When asked how the Iowa senator became concerned with the Chinese site’s activity, she said “because Iowa is next to Illinois” and “Illinois drivers’ licenses are among the easiest to duplicate.” When asked why the state doesn’t update their licenses to new standards she responded, “That’s up to state congress to decide.”

Disgruntled teens on the Twitter and Tumblr spheres have been mourning the site’s demise. Yet two months after the site’s closure, tweets like “I still can’t believe idchief got shut down!” make daily appearances.

At the end of October, former idchief.ph customers tweeted that they got an email from the former business directing them to use idsbuddy.com. The format of the site was identical to that of idchief.ph, but as of now the site is inaccessible. The latest oft-tweeted links are to idchief.me and new-ids.com, which claim to offer service for less than $150.

Also in recent weeks, Tumblers who were frantically posting inquiries for fake IDs for Halloween were met with comments by the gracious ad campaign of ID Shack, a Toronto-based “graphic design” agency that specializes in “novelty IDs” (the codeword for anything illegal is “novelty”). Though the agency’s Tumblr has since disappeared, their website and Facebook page remain active. The company even has an address listed for in-store purchase. But, like idchief.me, it is still too soon for consumers to report if these services are as disappointing as the numerous server-sharing scam sites such as fakeidentification.co.uk and thefakeid.com, or if they are legitimately illegit.

On Monday, I walked to the “East Coast epicenter for fake IDs” on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights to see if the fake ID industry still thrives in the aftermath of the rule of law. While it seems the hustling for fake ID sales has subsided, the multi-million industry doesn’t have to call it quits. The answer? Loopholes. Now several stores offer the Universal Net ID Card, “ready in minutes,” “whether you’re a resident or not.”

The card features your photo and personal information, with your state printed in a convincing font at the top, and all the holograms and bells and whistles other IDs have. While it may not be enough to fool a police officer (yet), it may get you past that bouncer who doesn’t know what a Wyoming state ID looks like, especially if you blow him a little kiss for extra luck.

Or, with the right materials, you can print a fake yourself.

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