Next generation fake IDs E-mail
Written by Jermaine Galloway   

As far back as we can remember there has been a market for fake ID’s.  Mostly they’ve been used by underage kids to get served alcohol in bars and restaurants, along with adults who were attempting to change their identity.  
In the “old days” those wanting to get a fake ID would stand in front of a poster board, or attempt to go to the DMV and fraudulently acquire one. Or they would just ask a friend for theirs.  

Now, whether someone is trying to get into a bar, change their identity or create a new identity, hudnreds of thousands of people across the world now find an online vendor and purchase these documents for a price.  

Along with these fake online ID companies, today there’s a new game in town. These are also online vendors who have created a new system with new technology to create even better fake ID’s with better quality, security features and information. The production of some of the fake IDs is so sophisticated, they can pass through scanners that are designed to detect fraudulent cards.  

The scariest thing is that many of us in law enforcement are not even aware that companies are producing these types of documents. Even though
technology has improved and police departments have evolved, many of us might have already come across them and didn’t even realize what we were looking at.

There are several popular online vendors selling the face ID cards, but there is one that stands out above all the rest.  Approximately two years ago, the China-based website, ID Chief (, appeared. This site produced and sold fake ID’s from multiple states across the country including Arizona, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland,  Maine, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Ohio, Connecticut,  Rhode Island and Illinois.  

What separated ID Chief from many of the other online vendors were the security features of their fake cards.  Many of the ID’s contained holograms that were only visible under UV lights along with the subject’s personal information. Once you were on their website you could pick the state that you wanted and you could see which state documents contained what security features.

This is how the purchase worked. The customer would send in their name, photo, possibly their address and $200 to the company. The company would then send two fake ID’s containing the personal information and photo.  For those who want to purchase alcohol they would just order cards with a change of their date of birth but keep all the other info the same.  This would allow them to get into bars and restaurants who ask for a second form of ID.  It would also allow them to slip by law enforcement who might ask them to repeat their personal information or sign their name.

Basically, all the info on the ID is real except for the date of birth which might be off by two to four years.  For those who were trying to change their identity or take over someone else’s identity, all they had to do was send in specific information to the company and a few weeks later they had a new identity.

With the $200 you didn’t just get one ID, you got two identical ID’s. If the first one was lost or seized you had another.  If you managed to lose both you could do a live chat with the company and receive more for a discounted rate.  Finally, the more people who went in with you on the purchase, the less the price was per ID. For instance, if you had 10 or more people the price could drop as low as $75 for the two ID’s.

This procedure has been adopted by multiple online vendors and it encourages people to recruit more individuals to make the ID purchase with them.    Most of the documents coming over from China are packaged in hidden compartments labeled as jewelry, wallets or calculators.  In some cases, you have to break open the item to find the ID’s.  This allows them to ship to rural areas or the largest cities in the country mostly undetected.

Fortunately for law enforcement, last August several US Senators sent a letter requesting that the ID Chief website get taken down.  Shortly afterwards, the website was closed down. However many companies saw the incredible amount of money that ID Chief made (estimated in the millions) and have followed where they left off, creating many of the fraudulent documents and websites themselves.

Many investigators have taken seized ID’s to businesses who have ID scanners to see if they could detect if these ID’s were fakes.  Last year, we ran many of these ID’s through scanners and they didn’t work; clearly they were fakes. 

But over the last few months, I did the same exercise and all but one of the ID’s worked and did scan as if they were real.  Clearly, changes have been made to catch up with today’s technology.

Whether it is a minor who is attempting to gain access to alcohol, someone avoiding apprehension, or someone who wants to create a new identity, or even a terrorist, it is important for law enforcement to understand what is out there.

It is important to educate yourself especially on the ID’s that are common in your region of the country.  A group that has a good grasp on security features of fake ID’s, are those, like myself, who primarily work in alcohol enforcement, or for federal agencies. If you are a law enforcement officer who wants to learn more, reach out to the agencies who are working on the problem. Remember, you can’t stop what you don’t recognnize.

Jermaine Galloway is a police officer with the Boise, Idaho Police Dept.

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