02 May 2012

The hidden cost of a fake ID

To get the fake IDs, teenagers give up their identities:
SARATOGA SPRINGS — It seemed like a harmless way to score some beer.
But prosecutors say city teens who handed over their names, birth dates, pictures and signatures to a China-based company in exchange for sophisticated fake IDs are in for a lifetime of debt.

Along with a money order for $75, police said, the teens wired personal information overseas to people in the business of stealing identities.

In return, the kids got a driver's license that officials say can fool border patrol and airport security, let alone Caroline Street bouncers.

ID Chief got a cache of personal info they immediately auctioned off to the highest bidder. "As these kids get older and try to get jobs, try to be stockbrokers, or get a mortgage, or credit cards, they will find in 90 percent of the cases that they have thousands in credit card debt, that they will have several mortgages they have yet to pay, holds on their licenses to states they've never been to, Interpol holds, because they gave their information to a foreign Web-based company," Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy said. "All just to get a beer on Caroline Street."
Further details at the Times Union.


  1. Why are these kids signing up for fake IDs with real information? That seems like a mistake on many levels. If the kid in question, for example, hadn't had his real name on his fake ID, it might have been a lot harder for the police to track him down.

  2. It would be more convincing if the police or reporters could produce evidence of teenagers actually having their identities stolen. Without it, it sounds like the police are using ID theft as a scare tactic to keep kids from obtaining fake IDs they admit to having a hard time identifying.

    "But prosecutors say city teens who handed over their names, birth dates, pictures and signatures to a China-based company in exchange for sophisticated fake IDs are in for a lifetime of debt."

    Names, birth dates and pictures can already be obtained from millions of people who make that data public on Facebook. Pictures are unneeded and useless for the most common methods of identity theft. A genuine signature is also unnecessary. How would a bank check the authenticity of a picture or signature when they're opening an account for someone who isn't a preexisting customer? Identity thieves usually require at least a social security number to open credit accounts, and it's not reported that the teens ever gave that out.

  3. [in geezer voice] In my day, when we wanted a fake ID we had to buy one from a homeless person!

  4. I know many young men who got fake IDs in their real name, because they thought it would better comply with the post-911 and anti-immigration laws. They had no desire to fake any rights beyond being able to buy beer or enter a 21+ club. Most of them were handled at the state level, but this is a federal felony offense. Every one of them who got caught now has a felony conviction on their record. That will make getting a job after college even harder.

    Whether the claim re ID-theft is correct or not, there is a very real long term threat to using a fake ids now (that did not exist when I was a kid):
    1) It is a federal crime.
    2) Should your real name be on it, it is a felony. To make it a misdemeanor, legally, there can be no accurate information on the id. I don't know if eye color counts.

  5. Last year two students living in residence halls ordered fake IDs from China. Apparently, the shipments were flagged because there had been a number of these types of shipments from the same city. The police and postmaster general got involved and the students were arrested when they got package slips in their mailboxes. I bet they were bummed.

  6. I was always under the impression that having an ID with a fake name was the equivalent of identity theft and was prosecuted accordingly.

  7. According to the actual article, none of things they SAY could happen have actually happened; they MIGHT happen. The article is about the false IDs and not, as the misleading headlines says, "the hidden cost."


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