Fake IDs just a click away, KSL investigation shows

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A warning for every parent with a teenager or young student in college: getting a fake ID is as easy as a mouse click.

KSL obtained a fake ID through a Chinese Web site. They were so high tech and looked so real - down to the state hologram, watermarks, even the bar codes on the back - that one undercover investigator told us it's the best he's ever seen.

Online, the outfit didn't offer a Utah ID, so we chose an Arizona driver's license, then entered a fake name and a fake birth date. We wired $200 to a counterfeiter in China's third largest city, Guangzhou. Twelve business days later, a package arrived with an unusual item inside, a seemingly benign fabric swatch.

Expertly wrapped and taped inside the fabric swatch were two Arizona Driver's Licenses.

"Looks pretty legit to me to be honest with you," said Sgt. Anthony Carrubba who works undercover with Utah's State Bureau of Investigation.

Carrubba inspected the driver's license while looking at it underneath a blue light. It showed a watermark normally seen on Arizona licenses.

When asked if he would accept the ID in a club setting, Sgt. Carrubba said, "In a club setting, definitely."


The next step was to take our Arizona fake ID to a downtown Slat Lake City bar called Gracie's, where we had the owner Deno Dakis take a look.

"This is a really good fake ID," Dakis said.

The one snag, though, was that the the ID bar code did not scan successfully. But when swiped, the ID seemed to work at least partially.

"It shows Reed Madison at 21 years old," he said. "It's interesting. I wouldn't know what to do with this other than ask them for another form of ID."

KSL went to one local high school to ask teenagers if they've heard of these Chinese exports and whether they or their friends are using them.

"Yeah, you can go online and get them really easy," said one high school student.

"They're like $300 and a lot of people have them," said another teenager. He said that his friends had showed him similar IDs before.

We brought the fake IDs to the attention of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff who said his office was unaware of this type of Chinese counterfeiting.

Looks pretty legit to me to be honest with you.

–Sgt. Anthony Carrubba

"I appreciate the investigation you're doing at KSL as far as looking into this issue of attaining false IDs now from China," Shurtleff said.

Shurtleff oversees the SECURE Strike Force and Special Investigations Unit. He says his team has busted numerous fake ID mills here in Utah but not from overseas.

"The problem is with the ease of access here of the Internet. The fact that our kids know how to use the Internet that they'll be able to go on and order these things from China," Shurtleff said.

So what can parents do to combat these fake IDs?

"Monitor your kids and know what they're doing," Shurtleff said.

Unfortunately, China isn't the only country selling fake ID to underage teenagers. Through our investigation, we've learned that groups in Mexico and Canada are also manufacturing fake IDs.

Utah investigators are quick to remind teens and parents that these ID's are most likely not being used only to buy booze. They could easily be obtained by illegal immigrants and credit card and identity crooks, as well as global terrorists.


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Lori Prichard


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