MIAMI (CBS4) – From the bars and clubs on South Beach and Brickell, to rap and rock concerts, from Bank Atlantic Center to Bank United Center ID’s are in demand.
The battle to prevent fake ID’s being used by underage partiers is as old as the laws limiting the drinking age.
But with the ease of the Internet, fake ID’s are now easier than ever to get and harder and harder to detect.
“They were everywhere. Pretty much everybody had one. If you’re under 21 that’s the only way to get around,” said this young college student who did not want to be identified.
As he told CBS4 Investigator Stephen Stock, he got caught by police while trying to use a fake ID that had actually been passed among his underage family and friends.
“People make them. People pass them down a lot. I mean, I know eight different people once I turned 21 who used my ID,” the student told Stock.
CBS4 Investigates discovered this right of passage for college students wanting to get into bars and clubs has become a national security threat.
“They’re getting better. They’re transacting through the Internet. They’re buying them from China. There’s a lot of companies that will provide them for a hundred bucks,” explained David Rivero, Chief of Police at the University of Miami.
The same fake ID’s once used to get into bars, have become so easy to get over the Internet and so good at mimicking real ID’s that Federal Homeland Security officials worry terrorists could use them to board airplanes or enter the country secretly and illegally.
Carmen Pino is Assistant Special Agent in charge of South Florida’s ICE office.
“It is one of the greatest concerns that we have in Homeland Security. It is a great threat to national security. You can order these things online. The Internet offers you the opportunity to buy these, have them shipped right to you, FedEx’ed to your door. And the next thing you know you’ve taken on someone else’s identity and you can do whatever you want and operate in plain sight,” Pino said.
In fact, this past June Nigerian-American citizen Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi did just that. Several times Noibi flew on different airplanes all over the United States with 10 different fake boarding passes and ID’s. While later deemed NOT to be a terrorist threat, federal officials admit Noibi’s case shows how easily fake ID’s can threaten national security.
Here in Florida ABT officers regularly work the streets to crack down on these fake ids and try to find the source.
“It’s a continuous problem,” said Capt. Tom Hagler with Florida’s Department of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco.
Hagler showed Stock thousands of fake ID’s seized during recent operations.
Officials found that many of these fake ID’s are indistinguishable from real ones. Some so real that even experts have a hard time telling them apart.
“With the technology that’s available to them (fake ID makers) and the programs it’s very difficult to detect,” said Hagler.
Possession of a fake ID is now a felony here in Florida.
As for China, companies there call them “novelty items” and they insist they are not meant to subvert security. But the problem of fake ID’s coming out of China has become so prevalent that the US State Department is now pressuring the Chinese government to put a stop to it.