State police crack down on fake IDs

By Assistant Metro Editor

ILLINOIS SECRETARY OF State Jesse White is cracking down on the use of fake IDs with a campaign driving home the penalties for having and using a fake ID.

The campaign will inform people of the penalties they may face when a fake ID is purchased. The consequences for obtaining and using a fake ID include a maximum $25,000 fine, up to three years in prison or 50 hours of community service, possible identity theft charges and a one-year license suspension, according to White.

The penalties have always been in place, but because of an increase in the use of fake IDs, law enforcement has caught about 50 offenders per month, according to White. He said he 

hopes to bring light to the harsh penalties with the campaign.

In past two years, more than 1,200 people have been caught using fake IDs, according to the press release from the secretary of state.

The Internet has made obtaining fake IDs easier. They can be purchased overseas for free by providing personal information to the companies that produce and sell the IDs. However, providing personal information to the companies may result in identity theft, White said in the press release.

“Somewhere, someone within the dormitory setting or the fraternity house will come up with an idea of how they could come up with an ID or a driver’s license so that they can get into the bar,” White said. “So what happens in the bar or in the clubs is that [students] drink. They consume alcohol and then their life and the lives of others are in jeopardy.”

White said he wants to help underage students stay out of trouble and stay safe.

“My mission right now is to travel across Illinois visiting colleges and universities and [letting] people know the seriousness of their actions, if by chance they want to purchase one of those fake IDs or driver’s licenses,” White said.

If caught purchasing or using a fake ID, a fraud charge will remain on the perpetrator’s record for life.

“We just want to make sure that the young people who are going to run this great country of ours don’t do anything that is going to hinder their opportunity to become one of our leaders,” White said. “When you look at a person’s record and they have been involved with fraud, that could hinder their opportunity to get a job of their choice.”

Jim Burns, inspector general for the secretary of state, has created a task force along with White called the Safe ID Task Force. The task force looks to improve and ensure the driver’s license is a secure document and cannot be easily replaced, White said.

“[The task force is] always looking at new ways to make the document, and what is required of the document, more safe [and] protect- ed,” said Beth Kaufman, spokes- woman for the Secretary of State.

Burns spoke at the fake ID campaign press conference on Oct. 1 announcing that the task force is now requiring two pieces of identification to receive a state ID or driver’s license that shows the owner to be a resident of Illinois. The documents can include a utility bill or another piece of secure documentation that establishes residency.

At the press conference, Burns showed some of the features that are in IDs that let bar owners and bouncers know the difference be- tween fake and real IDs. Some security features are even hidden and are only seen through a black light.

“For years we have been involved with this [task force],” White said. “Jim Burns has been traveling

around Illinois talking about it, but it seems like more people are get- ting [fake IDs] than ever [before].”

White has sent out a public service announcement to college and university radio stations warning students about the dangers of purchasing a fake ID. He wants to make sure students know that the consequence is not just losing the fake ID, but that it can potentially mean losing driving privileges for a year and facing other stringent consequences, Kaufman said.

Borrowing an ID has similar consequences not only for the person caught with the ID but also for the lender. Both parties can be charged with identity theft, White said.

“It’s not safe no matter who you are, whether you are a student or not,” White said. “My mission is to help make the roads in Illinois the safest ever, and every day we will work toward that end.”