Students’ fake IDs now come from overseas

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Fake IDs have been an element of college life for decades, whether students use them or not. But counterfeit IDs for students under 21 are now more accessible than ever, with new overseas websites getting in on the action.

More than 1,700 fake IDs from China have been intercepted in the Chicago area in the first half of 2011, and the Cook County Sheriff’s office has arrested over 40 people as a result of the seizure. Cook County Deputy Sheriff Edward Bianchi said the intercepted IDs were “perfect,” and that the counterfeit IDs were smuggled into Chicago under games, cheap jewelry and other items.

The recent availability of fake IDs has Robert Krystowiak, a Department of Public Safety officer, worried about them spreading around campus.

“It appears to be so easy to order fake IDs online that the number has definitely increased and also the quality has absolutely increased,” Krystowiak said.

Erin Lazzar, assistant dean of students, said more students caught with fake IDs are saying they purchased their ID online rather than buying them on campus or using an older sibling’s ID. She said last year the Office of Student Development had 60 cases involving counterfeit IDs.

Krystowiak said one of the dangers of buying fake IDs from websites is that students are exposing themselves to possible identity theft when sending their names, pictures and signatures to these websites.

Krystowiak also said DPS officers receive training to see the small differences, but are not allowed to disclose what differences they look for because the information is law enforcement sensitive.

There is no statutory punishment for having, using or selling fake IDs, but rather a spectrum, Lazzar said. The spectrum ranges from a warning to being asked to leave the university.

Krystowiak said the Milwaukee Police Department has handed out no municipal citations at this time, only criminal charges with the state of Wisconsin, but added that this might change in the future.

Phillip Alioto, supervisor of the fraud detection and prevention unit at the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles, said there are dozens of security features on the Wisconsin state driver’s license and state ID cards that counterfeiters have not been able to duplicate.

For example, he said the Wisconsin driver’s license and state ID cards have two scallions on them that can be seen when the opaque license is held up to light — something counterfeiters have not been able to reproduce.

He said the print quality of the counterfeit IDs do not match that of an authentic ID, but do a good job replicating the plastic laminate overlay with the state UV seal.

Alioto said he shares information with law enforcement agencies as well as businesses to inform them on the security features and how to spot counterfeit IDs.

All first year students at Marquette are required to complete AlcoholEdu, an online alcohol education tool administered by Outside the Classroom. But the course does not deal directly with fake IDs, said Sara Johnson, coordinator of alcohol programs in OSD.

“The presence of false IDs in the collegiate community will always be a concern,” Johnson said. “However, I would challenge that the greater concern is the level of high-risk drinking behaviors exhibited by students in the Marquette community, namely the behaviors of pregaming and engaging in drinking games.”

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