The New York Times highlights a serious problem. College kids have become very good at making fake-ID's like driver's licenses.
Using Internet resources and sophisticated computer graphics software, college students are forging driver's licenses of startlingly good quality, complete with shimmering holograms, special inks and data encoding that can fool the police and even occasionally the latest generation of scanners. To hear law enforcement officers tell it, in the fake-ID arms race the kids are winning...There are also numerous fake-ID mills offshore and they are offering their products and services online. Some of these offshore sites offering to sell fake-ID are also scams. Claiming to sell a perfect counterfeit drivers license for any one of the 50 states - just send them $120 cash in an un-marked envelope. Countless gullible kids do send cash overseas with the crazy belief that they will be receiving a fake ID. If a teenager loses their money what recourse to they have?
"ID's made by students tend to be much better than ID's you buy in the Village or Times Square," said a 19 year-old Columbia sophomore who has a fake driver's license...
For students who prefer to make their own ID's, the Web offers all the raw materials. High-quality graphics templates for most state drivers' licenses-with accurate renderings of intricate background patterns and color schemes-can be found online. High-tech driver's license plastics and laminates that were once available only to drivers' license bureaus are now easily available online as well at legitimate office supply sites and specialty sites.
Some bars and clubs have started using special ID scanners, like the Intelli-Check, to combat the fake-ID epidemic.
Scanners, though are rare, and word quickly circulates when a bar gets one. Web sites like www.hotspotboston.com rate bars and clubs by the strictness of their ID policies, so under-age drinkers know which ones to avoid.However in the arms race between counterfeiters and the authorities the kids are already formulating strategies to defeat scanners.
...discriminating buyers of fake ID's want forged licenses that are properly encoded and can pass muster with a scanner.
Licenses store information in two formats: magnetic stripes like those on credit cards, and two-dimensional bar codes, strips of small dots arranged to convey information in a kind of graphic Morse code. Magnetic stripes can be erased with a magnet and reprogrammed with, say, a new birth date, using basic ID-making equipment, and bar codes can be photocopied or transferred from a legitimate ID to a fake one.
While a careful bouncer or police officer might figure out such ruses by comparing the information from the data strip to that on the front of the ID, most don't bother. Instead, scanners search the encoded strips for a birth date and issue a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down on whether the cardholder is the legal drinking age.
"All it tells you is if the age is older than 21 or not," said the former ID maker at Columbia. "You just have them all programmed over 21."
Fake ID's are Gaining [NY Times, Mar. 6, 2005]
Fake Identification [Google Directory]
Fake Identification [dmoz.org]
Tech-savvy teens swamp police with fake IDs [USA Today, July 2, 2001]