Social Media Makes Fake IDs Extremely Accessible

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Photo by www.mtv.com

SuperBad's 'McLovin' demonstrates why using a Fake is risky business.

Kyle O'Shaughnessy, Staff Writer

For decades, high schoolers have purchased and used Fake/Counterfeit Identification to circumvent the law. Whether it is to buy alcohol, tobacco, or for club/bar access, no high schooler would deny the utility of these IDs. While difficult to obtain before, Fake IDs are now a click away, and constantly being improved upon, making them harder and harder to contain, or prevent.

Since the turn of the century, with the rise of the internet and more recently – social media – IDs have become extremely accessible. According to Officer Grum of the Lake Forest Police Department, these IDs have always been an issue. He elaborated by saying that before social media they were more difficult to obtain; someone would need to have connections to obtain one. Now, according to Grum and Rob Stafford from NBC Chicago, these IDs are one click away.

It is easier than ever these days for a teenager to buy a fake identification card, and the cards, they look more real than ever,” Stafford said. “But few teenagers understand how severe the punishment can be if they’re caught with one.

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According to Grum, his goal is to educate high schoolers. He doesn’t want to punish a kid he doesn’t have to. Most high schoolers, Grum believes, wouldn’t purchase an ID if they knew the potential consequences. According to Stafford, possession of false identification is a class 4 felony, and with that comes significant consequences, potentially even jail time.

“My push is more of knowledge based, high school kids don’t quite get that […] or  really think about what could come from [getting caught]. I know you can get these, I know it’s not hard, I know I can’t stop everyone from getting them, but here is what could happen, try to be smart,” Grum said.

According to the LFPD, punishments could range anywhere from a contract/essay and in depth conversation to jail time.

“It all depends on when the ID was found (for punishment). If it was found on campus, I would meet with Dean of Students, discuss what the school is doing, and then also my angle – discuss in terms of what my consequences would be,” Grum said. “If the school is taking a harder line, and on my end the criminal end I would go soft, [and vice versa]. It also depends on whether or not the ID was found mid-use.”

Today, groups of up to thirty high schoolers shell in hundreds, sometimes even thousands, to purchase IDs from overseas. Websites like qualityids or fakeidme, are easily found on extensions and social media platforms similar to Reddit. Once purchased, students can expect an inconspicuous item like a pot, or a picture, to arrive within weeks, hidden somewhere under this item, and a layer of foam, lies the ID. The accessibility isn’t the only issue; they are becoming highly advanced.

Comic by Ron Barrett (The New YorkTimes)
A police officer busts teens after noticing suspicious shipments from overseas.

“[Teens are buying] remarkably realistic fake IDs — with holograms and graphics and barcodes so convincing they can even fool police officers,” Stafford said. “Even when one of these ‘fakes’ is placed side-by-side with a real license, it can be nearly impossible to figure out which is which. An increasing number of kids order these cards online, from a variety of websites which each purport to sell ‘novelty’ IDs and licenses. Many of the sites are based overseas, but easily accessible to any group of kids with a laptop and some cash.”

As mentioned: accessibility isn’t an issue for a Northshore high schooler, the issue is price. After several kids were caught with these IDs, the LFPD estimated (unofficially) that roughly 75% of teens in the area have a Fake ID. Social media makes them easy to buy, and these websites encourage teens to have their friends buy them. Most kids don’t want to spend over $100 on an ID, so they find friends, and buy in bulk to reduce the price.

“You get a group together, so it’s cheaper, then you use a website like ID God.” An anonymous source said. “[Then] put in a bunch of info, including: name, fake address, height, weight, eye color, hair color, and it is recommended to choose a state you would not use the ID in. So not IL because they can tell it’s fake”

Officer Grum would like not only LFA and LFHS students, but high schoolers in general, to be informed.

“I would say, being that I’m a young policeman and I grew up in the area, I understand that no matter how I go about preaching, or trying to teach kids the right thing to do, I know mistakes are going to be made. I know you are going to do things you’re not supposed to do,” Grum said. “One thing I would like [teens] to do, is sit down and read the law on Fake IDs,  and understand what you’re getting into before you make that decision. Risk management is everything – What are the benefits? What are the risks? What are the penalties? Really think about if it’s worth it.”