Teens take risk of identity theft when they order fake IDs from China

A fake driver’s license made in China works as well as the real thing.

These IDs look perfect, they scan, and they have the correct holograms. Anyone with Google and the desire to drink can get one. They’re every underage drinker’s dream. But little do they know they may also be their worst nightmare.

When buyers submit personal information to China, they are sending it through a network of organized crime, putting their identity in the hands of some of the world’s most sophisticated criminals, officials warn.

But some teens in the Southeast Valley don’t see the problem if they can buy their friends alcohol, interviews show.

After hearing good reviews, one Arizona State University student, who asked not to be identified, got a couple of friends to join him on an order for IDs. Three weeks later, the IDs arrived inside the sole of a shoe, one of the methods used to get them past customs. Decks of cards, teacups and children’s toys are also popular stash spots.

Universities have become a prime target for fake-ID companies. The IDs have become popular across the nation, with batches intercepted by customs officials in San Francisco, Chicago and New York.

In a 2010 study, University of Missouri Professor Julia Martinez concluded that 32 percent of all undergraduate students would own and use a fake ID by the end of their sophomore years.

In 2011, the Tempe Police Department said, police seized 2,247 fake IDs in the downtown district alone, up 8 percent from the previous year.

The IDs’ sophistication means that more may be getting past doormen than are not. When tested at a popular Scottsdale bar, a fake ID scanned positively, meaning a barcode scanner verified the license as legitimate.

“To the naked eye, these look perfect,” said Andrew Lebowitz, a former bouncer at American Junkie in Scottsdale. “Anyone could get in with one of these.”

When the bouncers at five popular Scottsdale bars inspected the ID, they eventually found minor flaws, such as fuzzy printing and poor image quality, he said. However, inspections rarely get that far. “The truth is, on a busy Saturday night, no one would be suspicious about this ID. It’s that good,” Lebowitz said.

John Sileo, an identity-theft expert who has worked with the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Defense, says an identity can be stolen with as little as a phone number. By using Google, Facebook and public records, a skilled hacker can eventually gather the information to access a Social Security number.

By filling out the ID order form, you’re just saving them the time.

“They’re giving you a fake ID in the process, but they are essentially buying your data,” Sileo said.

Janice Kephart, director of national-security policy at the Center for Immigration Studies, said there’s nothing more valuable than an American identity in the black market.

She said the ID company could be a front for a multimillion-dollar identity-theft ring. “Building a large database of young American identities is extremely valuable in the smuggling world,” she said.

Owen McShane, director of investigations at the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, headed an operation that traced fake ID websites back to organized-crime groups in China.

“Your information is marketable and they will sell it faster than you can imagine,” he said.

McShane said that when these websites first surfaced, China’s technology was defeating every security feature in U.S. drivers’ licenses. New York’s license was one of the most widely counterfeited.

New York has since added new technologies to its license, including a radio-frequency identification chip that verifies personal information for border officials.

It’s a technology China has yet to replicate. New York driver’s licenses are no longer available on the fake-ID website.

The latest technology is costly, McShane said, and some states cannot afford to improve their licenses. These states’ IDs, including Arizona’s, are still being produced in China.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/community/gilbert/articles/2012/06/15/20120615teens-take-id-theft-risk-ordering-fake-ids-from-china.html

Technorati Tags: ,

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply