"Pete" made thousands selling fake IDs. Using a laminator, basic Photoshop skills and a roll of double-sided tape, he charged University of Portland students up to $100 for cards that cost $1.50 to make. A pretty sweet gig—until he was busted. Threatened with four felony charges, Pete packed his bags, left school and gave up the business.
Pete—who didn't want to use his name for obvious reasons—was a dinosaur anyway. Today's best fake IDs aren't coming from dorm rooms and Chevy vans, they're coming from China and Canada. Sold as "novelty IDs," they use the buyer's real photograph and often have working barcodes and holograms. They cost up to $200 each from websites like IDchief.ph, FakeIDMaster.com and mynoveltyid.com. Some are reportedly good enough to get by Transportation Security Administration scanners.
Lawna Lutz, a bartender at the Cheerful Tortoise near Portland State University, is confident the best bouncers will stop them: "When people know they're using a fake, they just act differently."
But when your fake ID scans and passes a black light test, are you going to be nervous? Maybe, given the stakes. According to Oregon Liquor Control Commission spokeswoman Christie Scott, the punishment for misrepresentation of age is a class C misdemeanor, which could mean a $5,000 fine and a year in jail. More likely, you'll lose your license for a year and do a little community service.
According to Lutz, the Cheerful Tortoise has never actually called the police for a fake ID. "We just grab the fake and tell them to get out," Lutz says. "We tell them if they can come back with more proof it's them, we'll give the ID back."
The OLCC collects a lot of fakes from bars and liquor stores, but doesn't keep statistics. The future of enforcement depends on how well the state can stay ahead of foreign sellers.
"The novelty IDs are really popular," admits Scott, "but those are the ones we're up on and working with business to control."