ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Fake IDs and driver's licenses have been around for years, but they’ve never looked more realistic -- so much so that local police officers are having to run driver’s license numbers to determine if they’re bogus.
The phony identification cards can be ordered from places such as China and India.
University of Central Florida police Lt. James Mangan said he encounters anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen fake IDs per night while doing bar checks near campus.
Channel 9 ordered a fake Florida driver’s license from a website that advertises high-quality fake IDs and wired money to someone named Yanlong Jiang in China.
The order wasn't submitted until Jiang picked up the cash. The website provided instructions on how to shoot a photo for the license.
Channel 9 photographed reporter Field Sutton, uploaded the photo and submitted his personal information under the fake name "Randy Lahey."
Six weeks later, the website posted “proof pics,” showing a batch of IDs that was ready for shipment.
The generic-looking envelope, which was postmarked Dallas, Texas, arrived on the seventh week. It appeared to contain a pack of baseball cards, but sandwiched between two cards was a fake ID.
Mangan said the card felt slightly different than a real one, but the Florida state seal hologram looked authentic.
Channel 9 tested out the ID with the help of a local convenience store.
“Let's give it a shot,” store manager Jennifer DeGuzman said. “It goes right through.”
DeGuzman said the information encoded on the card appeared to be valid, so she would have sold a pack of cigarettes to someone using the ID.
“Its scans right through the register,” she said. “This is as good as it gets.”
Mangan fears that young people might not realize the lifelong consequences they could face if caught with a fake ID.
“Underage drinking in the state of Florida is a misdemeanor, but possessing a fraudulent ID or DL is a felony,” Mangan said. “So you are committing a felony to commit a misdemeanor.”
He said it's not just a problem from a drinking standpoint, but there’s also a concern about check fraud and gaining access to secure areas.
“As technology improves for the state, it also improves overseas,” Mangan said. “The fake IDs will just keep getting better and better.”