Once Again with Enthusiasm: Getting a Phony ID is a Felony

Last week GFP reporter Katherine Du (Greenwich Academy class of 2017) interviewed Greenwich Police Sgt. Zuccerella about the problem of teens with fake IDs for her feature, When a Lost Wallet Leads to Felony Arrest. 

A Google search for “order fake ID” turns up over 17 million hits including a website promising: “We have multiple clients all over the nation using our Fake ID’s to get into bars, clubs, liquor stores, and more. Our ID’s are guaranteed to get you drunk. They pass all security features as well. Holograms, UV, Magnetic Stripe, Barcodes, Microprinting, etc”

This week, after police broke up an under age drinking party in Darien, a teenager girl with red, glassy eyes was getting her identification when an officer saw two fraudulent IDs in her wallet, one of them purporting to be a Connecticut driver’s license. The other was meant to look like a probationary New Jersey driver’s license.

Sister site Darienite.com reports about a rash of teens with fake IDs in that town. The following article was written by Dave Gurliacci of Darienite.com

In recent weeks the Darien Police Department has come across several young people who were in possession of fraudulent or “fake IDs.”  It’s been determined that the main sources of these counterfeit licenses are online retailers.

The websites typically require each purchaser to send their name, photo, signature and payment.  The manufacturer would then generate a fake address usually taken directly from MLS listings of houses for sale in the chosen state.  The high quality identification cards replicate licenses from Connecticut and other states. 

Intricate details are duplicated on the counterfeit licenses, including watermarks, making them nearly indistinguishable from authentic IDs.  The counterfeit licenses cost between $100 and $200 and usually need to be purchased using pre-paid credit cards, reload cards, wire transfers, or Bitcoins.

Fake IDs are not as harmless as they seem.  Det. Sgt. Jeremiah Marron of the Darien Police Department states, “Young people and their parents need to realize that obtaining fraudulent identification is a serious crime with potential criminal consequences.  Although their teenager may only be using a fake ID to buy alcohol or get into a bar, driver’s licenses are official government-issued documents” Marron said.

“Underage drinking and underage purchasing of alcohol is a very real concern for our community. Additionally, a concern for law enforcement across the nation is when individuals use these types of fraudulent documents to enter the country illegally or even worse, commit acts of terrorism.”

What most violators don’t understand is that simply having a fake ID in their wallet is a violation of Forgery in the Second Degree (in Connecticut).  This is a Class D felony carrying a penalty up to 5 years in jail, a $5000.00 fine and probation.

Of additional consequence is that sending private and identifying information across the web to an unknown entity exposes you to identity theft.

Marron added, “The moral of the story here is that fake IDs aren’t as casual as our young people and their friends play them off to be. They come with big risks and even bigger legal consequences if they’re caught.  While it’s unlikely that this crime will result in a prison sentence, especially as a first offense, a future employer could see a potential employee as someone who has honesty issues.”

Lastly, underage drinking is a causal factor in a host of serious problems including suicide, traumatic injury, drowning, violent and property crime, high-risk sex, alcohol poisoning, and the need for treatment of alcohol abuse and dependence.  In 2013 underage drinking cost the citizens of Connecticut $0.7 billion.

These costs include medical care, work loss, and pain and suffering associated with the multiple problems resulting from the use of alcohol by youth.  (Source: Taylor DM, Miller TR. (2015). Methodology: Underage Drinking Fact Sheets. Calverton, MD: PIRE)