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Fake IDs commonplace
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Go to most any outdoor market, street corner, shadowy business establishment or other place and chances are that fake identification cards are readily available for sale. It is a huge business that attracts buyers of all kinds and from all walks of life. Modern equipment and technology allow the production of fraudulent documents and cards of all kinds, some of which are so realistic that they are difficult to distinguish from the real thing. These fakes do not come cheap; one can expect to pay up to $500 for one, and even then they are not fool-proof.

Most people tend to think that fake ID cards are used primarily by persons under 21 wishing to buy alcoholic beverages or by undocumented foreign nationals. Those are correct assumptions, but the purposes for fake IDs are much more varied. Some other reasons people use fake IDs includes concealing their true identities for criminal purposes. Persons with outstanding warrants often try to escape law enforcement detection by using a made-up identity, even though new technology is making it easier for police to discover this kind of fraud. Some people who have bad credit use new identities to escape creditors and to obtain new credit cards and loan accounts, while others who have been jailed or are on parole may want to conceal that information from prospective employers, the police or other authorities. The reasons are many, with most of them being illegal and unethical.

To be sure, California law prohibits the use of fake ID cards. Equally serious are the acts of producing fake IDs that mimick a California driver's license or ID cards. In fact, the state Legislature recently passed a new law that increases the punishment for these offenses to include state prison or county jail sentences of up to one year. Obviously the problem has been recognized and the "system" is trying to respond accordingly.

The fake ID business is one that is in a constant cycle of action and reaction. In other words, when the government produces "counterfeit-proof" ID cards, the counterfeiters are usually just a few months behind in producing realistic replicas. The cycle starts all over again, as the government improves over its previous product, only to have the counterfeiters overcome the new security features. One change that may make it more difficult for the fraudulent identity industry is the fact that both the government and the business sector collects increasingly more data on each of us as we buy products, travel places and engage in other activities. Now, more than ever, our fingerprints are on file in various places, while data bases are able to cross-reference information about us that can reveal identification commonalities which can betray someone's effort to conceal their true identity with one which is false.

As time goes on, our identities will become more entrenched in the "electronic environment," leading to greater difficulties in concealing one's identity. For those of us who are law abiding and resentful of government or corporate intrusion into our personal lives and effects, it is a most troubling thought. For the purpose of thwarting identity fraud, ID theft and the like, these same intrusions may pay off. No matter what, it is the criminal that does things to cause the government to react by passing laws that, in effect, are intrusive to us all. It is an unfortunate trade-off.

In any event, the state of California is flooded with people possessing and using false identifications. These false IDs have the effect of damaging the economy, criminals are able to, at least temporarily, escape the criminal justice system, and there are many other ill effects of this business. The police, in recognition of this problem, now have in-field identification technology which has proven particularly helpful when dealing with suspects playing the "name game."

We will be particularly aggressive about detecting and apprehending violators who produce and sell fake identification cards and associated support documents. Illegal use of fake ID is also subject to strict enforcement. If you have any questions about this, contact your local police department for information. Business owners and operators might be particularly interested in this. Feel free to contact us.