A 14-year-old boy in Charlotte, N.C., wanted a slingshot, but Wal-Mart won’t sell one to customers under 16, the Charlotte Observer reprots. The boy went to a friend; a half hour later, an old school ID card was transformed to make the boy 16. Law enforcement officials aren’t surprised. Advances in technology have made fake IDs so accessible that teens in the Charlotte region are getting them in record numbers. “A few years ago you might have caught a kid with a fake ID about 20 percent of the time,” said Omar Qureshi, an N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement agent. “Now it’s 80 percent of the time. There’s a tremendous amount of IDs out there. It’s almost to the point where it’s overwhelming.”
The boom is fueled by a teen population armed with advanced personal computer equipment and lots of disposable income. Security experts worry that today’s under-aged drinker is tomorrow’s identity thief. Web sites offering license templates, license-altering programs or finished products abound. Many teens know someone with a fake ID or someone who can make one. “If I wanted to, I could get 19-, 20-, 21-year-old cards by Friday,” said a 15-year-old. “If you want one that says you’re 18 on something flimsy, that’s anywhere from free to $20. If you want something hard, like a driver’s license, it will cost anywhere from $20 to $50.” Another teen said he could get a near-perfect driver’s license for anywhere from $400 to $900.
In January, N.C. agents arrested a University of North Carolina student for selling false licenses. “His IDs were actually pretty good,” Qureshi said. “There’s no way we could hold a clerk responsible for selling to (his clients).”
Most counterfeiters don’t bother searching for obscure licenses to copy. Several state licenses -can be replicated with enough accuracy to fool most officials.