Fighting fakes: One in four frauds found
Published: Friday, October 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, November 8, 2013 09:11
Part 2 of Fake It Till You Make It
After Miami sophomore *Jerry Graham strolls confidently to the bar, he nudges his way past throngs of buzzed students and motions to his friends; he wants to take shots. With the blue band on his right wrist and the fake Illinois driver’s license he used to get it, Graham feels invincible. However, there is a nearly one in three chance that he and the convincing, computer-generated fake ID will be found out.
“Methods of fake ID obtainment and use in underage college students,” a 2010 University of Missouri and the Midwest Alcoholism Research Center (MARC) study, shows about 29 percent of those who use fakes have reported being caught.
Officer Greg Moore of the Oxford Police Department (OPD), said students often have only a partial understanding of laws regarding fake ID use.
“Students don’t realize the gravity of a conviction for fictitious identification, they just know they’re going to get an ID so they can go up and drink trashcans at Brick Street and they don’t realize that having a conviction for a fake ID, how is that going to look to a future employer?” Moore asked rhetorically. “It shows dishonesty.”
Moore added that the Oxford legal system takes the students’ intentions into account and that in other places, there could be far heavier charges.
“College towns are different, they’re just different,” Moore said. “A lot of times a fictitious ID is used for nefarious purposes, as you know, whether it be for voter fraud, whether it be for terrorism. This is for drinking underage and it is treated as such. But if you just look at the face of it, it is actually a very serious crime.”
MUPD Detective Walt Schneider said that on a federal level, the consequences of organizing an order of fictitious IDs are even graver.
“The federal charges on it are so much higher for ordering or facilitating an order,” Schneider said. “It’s a mandatory 10-year prison sentence if you’re convicted of ordering or facilitating an order of fake IDs for somebody.”
There is also an important difference between IDs like Graham’s, which students order from someone that manufactures fictitious IDs and a valid ID that is passed down to someone.
The law draws a faint line between fictitious IDs and valid ones obtained from a relative or a friend. In Ohio state law, both violations, possessing an altered or fictitious ID and using an ID that is not one’s own, fall under statute code 4507.30. However, it is considerably harder to charge someone who is found with a valid ID.
“If you have somebody else’s ID, and it’s a valid ID, we have to actually prove that you were using it for that purpose,” Moore said. “Basically, around here, if you’re caught with a valid ID that is not yours, it just happens to be your cousin, who looks a little bit like you and is three years older, unless we see you presenting that as yourself, you will not be charged.”
This difficulty may account for the low numbers of people in the Oxford area charged with violating state statute code 4507.30. According to OPD records, there have been just 124 charges since 2001.
However, these statistics do not reflect anyone who has had their record sealed, as a sealed charge is removed from the OPD system and therefore is not accounted for in these statistics.
Moore also acknowledged that the police apprehend far more people with fake IDs than those who actually are charged.
“We don’t always catch all the fake IDs,” Moore said. “But if we get six underage arrests in one night, we’ll probably come away with four or five IDs.”
Moore said they would probably catch even more underage students if the bars confiscated every fake ID they find.
“The bars are supposed to collect them,” Moore said. “Some of them do, then they turn them in and we get a stack, which tells me there is a much larger stack out there.”
According to Miami junior and doorman at The Wood’s *Derek Johnson, The Wood’s turns away fake IDs at an alarming rate.
“Probably every ten minutes and probably more than that,” Johnson said.
However, Johnson said that he and his coworkers, because they lack the formal training in spotting fake IDs, they do not feel comfortable seizing an ID that they aren’t confident is fake.
“We don’t really do anything at the bar, we just turn them away and don’t let them in,” Johnson said. “We technically could take them, but since we haven’t been formally trained, we play it safe and turn them away. If they keep coming back trying to use it, then we let the managers know and they will come out and take them away.”
Graham and other students are aware that most bars will not confiscate IDs, and that even if they do, the police will not follow up on these IDs. This low risk leads to students asking themselves, “Why wouldn’t I use a fake ID?”
“Back in the day, and I’ve seen it all change in my time here,” Moore said. “I’ve been here 23 years. Back in the day it was a Polaroid camera and what you would do is you’d have to stand 30 yards away to get the picture small enough and then you would basically cut it up and make a license.”
ID manufacturers, both locally and overseas, mostly in China, have come a long way since the days of manually cutting and pasting paper.
“It’s amazing how good these licenses are, amazing,” Moore said. “And they do it all computerized now and the print quality, it’s just fantastic and you make some really darn good licenses.”