As Demands for Identification Grow, Fake IDs Get More Sophisticated


That's so old-school.

A long time ago, when I was a young and helpful college student, I discovered that many of my classmates shared a common dilemma: their drivers licenses had their birthdates mistakenly listed as two or three years too late. Good and meticulous fellow that I was, I broke out the dry transfer sheets and clear book tape and set to work correcting this oddly common error. My growing band of friends compensated me generously for my time and trouble. Inevitably, though, the craftsman was rendered obsolete by an industrial revolution — a freshman set up a Polaroid-based operation that would have shamed any Department of Motor Vehicles, and set about more efficiently correcting birthdates. Now, it seems, that overseas competition has come to even this field. Foreign companies, many of them in China, have taken to the Internet to offer … corrected drivers licenses indistinguishable from products offered by government agencies. Of course, the government has done its best to fuel this transformation.

Reports NJ101.5:

No longer the domain of backroom cottage industries, this fake document business is state of the art.

The documents are being peddled from websites overseas…many in China. Their holograms, even the PVC plastic on the cards, has been faithfully replicated. Andrew Meehan of the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License says they are so good that when scanned by a machine, the fake is going to come up as a valid I-D when the so-called, "machine readable zone" is scanned.

USA Today has more:

The overseas forgers are bold enough to sell their wares on websites, USA TODAY research finds. Anyone with an Internet connection and $75 to $200 can order their personalized ID card online from such companies as ID Chief. Buyers pick the state, address, name and send in a scanned photo and signature to complete their profile.

ID Chief, whose website is based in China, responds personally to each buyer with a money-order request.

The stories are full of warnings about the terrorist threat from something called the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License — a group that screeches on its Website that "implementation of the REAL ID regulations for licenses is being vigorously opposed by well-funded special interest and extremist groups campaigning against it at the state level." And yes, there are good reasons to be able to reliably identify people in some circumstances, like accessing a safe deposit box or entering a secure facility.

But there's a reason that fake IDs have gone from underground craft project to big business, and it's the same reason that has transformed drivers licenses from the unlaminated slips of paper with no photos that some states were still issuing in the early 1980s to the hologram-emblazoned high-tech documents we get now. Not long ago, you really didn't need identification documents for much more than driving, financial transactions — and then, suddenly, buying a beer. If you used cash, you could otherwise move through your day pretty anonymously. Now, ID cards are mandatory to apply for a job, to buy a train ticket and even to purchase cold medicine.

In the space of a generation or two, the United States has gone from an open society to "papers, please" — but the "please" ain't so sincere.

So, of course providing fake identification documents has become a sophisticated business. Pointing to one emergency after another, from terrorism to immigration, the government has made ID cards a necessity for everyday life. That means rising demand, and that means somebody steps in to meet that demand.

And I'm not above saying that I'm glad that "corrected" documents remain available.

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  1. Oh no you guys CHIIIINNNNNAAAAA!!!!1!1one!!!eleventy!!1

  2. But yeah, if you’re going to (for instance) start making IDs with microcontrollers in them, only organizations with extremely large resources (such as those necessary to completely reverse-engineer a secure MCU) are going to be able to do it.

  3. China is the future! We should be more like Chinda

    1. /The Truth /Friedman /any other despotic regime worshiper

    2. The Chinaese underground economy is the future! We should be more like the Chindaese underground economy.


      1. The Chinaese underground economy is the future! We should be more like the Chindaese underground economy.


        1. Screw the Chindese. I went to a Panda Express the other night for takeout and not one of their specials had any panda in it.

          TRUTH IN ADVERTISING!!!1!!1

  4. Most of this is the result of the drug war. It is the obsession with stopping organized crime from laundering money that has lead to it being impossible to have any privacy or to operate in society without ID.

    1. Agreed. And the presence of the organized crime replete with drug money always willing to invest in false documents certainly doesn’t help either.

    2. I’m with John on this. There is no end to the damage that has been done by the WOD.

      And, thanks, HyR. I’ve added a couple of new bookmarks to my collection. Just out of, you know, curiousity.

    3. True, but it’s also meant to help catch tax dodgers, under the guise of anti-terrorism legislation like the USA Patriot Act.

      1. We had tax laws and tax dodgers in the 40s and 50s. It wasn’t until they went after the mafia and drug gangs that all of this shit started.

    4. I wished the cartels would hurry the hell up and win the damn thing. At some point the nuisance of government actions should be enough to make the extra profitability due to government nuisance just not worth the extra effort and they go ahead and slaughter every fucking DEA agent, bureaucrat and US Senator that stood in their way.

  5. Why not just chip everyone?

    1. Why not just chip everyone?

      Stop giving them ideas.

    2. Because:

      Revelation 13: 15-18
      15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

      16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

      17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

      18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

    3. Because then the Chinese would be making fake chips.

      1. See, that is just it. The gov can’t come up with something that someone else can’t duplicate. It would be much easier, and saner, to stop trying to dictate every facet of everyones life.

        If the gov would simply protect life, liberty and property just think how great this country would be.

        1. And the more “fool proof” the system, the more people trust it and the more damage that is done when someone breaks it.

        2. I couldn’t agree more. Too bad that idiot Jefferson couldn’t plagiarize me more completely.


    Starry Night in 7,000 dominoes.

    1. Best comment on the page:

      This was neat! It’s good to see an English degree not go to waste. And with 11-hour stints on one’s knees, a future in politics can’t be far off.

      Thank you, pony-tailed stranger.

  7. We’re eating oranges and we’re making IDs

    1. Damn you. You beat me to it. Last again.

  8. The more you tighten your grip, the more Corrected IDs will slip through your fingers.

  9. And I’m not above saying that I’m glad that “corrected” documents remain available.

    Why do you love terrorists, Mr. Tuccille?

    1. Because somebody’s got to stop der Kaiser the government.

  10. The scary thing is that, when security really does matter (military sites and such), “smart” IDs pretty much ensure that anyone with a convincing fake will be whisked through security with no questions asked.

  11. I want an ID that says I’m 10 years younger. For nosy boyfriends and such.

  12. I always find it hilarious when they check my id at a government building or somesuch. They rarely write my name down, or compare it to an authorized guest list. Hmm…you have produced a card with a name and picture that generally looks like you. You may now pass. What possible security does that provide?

  13. Side note = in New York state, tampering with a NYS drivers license is a felony punishable by up to 7 years in jail.

    That very photo could be a *crime*

  14. This is why I think anyone obsessing over voter ID is a moron.

  15. “In a world where you only needed identification where actual identification were NECESSARY…”

    Well, what would that movie be like? I wish people would put more thought into ways to use our near-magic technology to make it UNnecessary for people to identify themselves, except when actually knowing who someone IS (or IS NOT) is at the heart of the matter. For instance, it is often not necessary to know who a criminal is, only that the person you have in the dock was guilty of the crime. BUT, it is absolutely NECESSARY for the executioner to know that the person who is about to receive a lethal injection was the same person who was earlier convicted of the crime and sentenced in court.

    It is necessary that Costco know I am a member before they let me walk in. But do they care exactly WHICH member, until I try to pay with a debit card? (Actually, since some memberships carry a year-end cash rebate benefit, it is necessary for them to know which member, even when cash is paid. But if you want to forgo that and either not get your benefit or not enroll at the “executive” level, they really don’t need to know who you are.)

    (continued in reply msg)

    1. (continued from above)

      If the person who stands before the CHP officer did indeed pass a driver examination, and is qualified to drive on public roads, does the officer really need to know who this person is, especially if pulled over in a “routine traffic stop” and the car has not been reported stolen?

      If you can pay with an anonymous debit card or oldstyle cash, why does the seller need to know who you are?

      It goes on and on. I’m not saying all would be rosy in a world where ID were rarely requested because it was almost never truly needed. I do suspect, however, that we wouldn’t be significantly better or worse off than we are now, except that we would enjoy more true privacy, which would certainly be nice for people who valued such things.

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