Fake IDs, Real Risks
Anyone with a credit card, shipping address and PayPal can load up a shopping cart icon with new and used card printers, software, supplies, state driver’s license templates and even holograms. While some Web-based vendors call them novelty IDs, with tongue firmly in cheek, other fake ID sellers are more literal: “No one can touch the quality of our fake IDs!” one site says.
But for government, military and businesses seeking tamper-resistant identification cards and badges, the fake ID underground is no laughing matter.
There’s also an inherent underground fake ID business at some U.S. colleges and universities. New Hampshire’s State Liquor Enforcement Investigator Brandon Neudecker knows the challenge. Last month, Neudecker was presented the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association’s Liquor Law Enforcement Agent of the Year Award at the organization’s annual conference in Dallas. He was honored for busting three fake ID operations. Not surprisingly, two of the ID mills operated at the University of New Hampshire.
Another case under investigation involves hundreds of fake IDs as well as cooperation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Secret Service.
The stakes get higher when it comes to fraudulent IDs and identity documents for employment verification.
It was the topic recently of the Immigration, Refugees and Border Security Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Its chairman, Senator Charles Schumer, said, “In the past, our employment verification laws had placed employers between a rock and a hard place. Employers had been required to make subjective determinations about identity documents provided by employees in order to determine whether the employee is legally able to work in the United States.
“Employers who accept all credible documents in good faith may still be targeted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for turning a blind eye towards illegal immigrants in their workplace,” Schumer said. “Furthermore, when employers have to make on-the-spot subjective decisions about who is qualified to work and who is not, they can face potential lawsuits from employees who are actually U.S. citizens but who were wrongfully profiled as illegal immigrants.”
The committee and Congress are looking for a new system that relies upon non-forgeable identification. And many Senators, on both sides of the aisle, are not friendly with E-Verify. See the March 2009 issue of Security magazine for more on E-Verify.
Schumer said, “It’s an example of a half-hearted and flawed system. Under the current E-Verify system, an employer merely verifies whether the name, date of birth, Social Security number, and citizenship status given by a potential employee match the exact same information contained in the Social Security Administration’s database along with other government databases.” Instead, what’s needed is a specific and unique biometric identifier…a fingerprint, an enhanced biometric picture, or other mechanism.
Ordinary thieves are getting a leg up on their petty theft colleagues with computer and Web-enabled fake ID and document creation tools.
For example, a man in Florida allegedly used his home computer and high-grade printers to create fake checks, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He also produced fake Florida driver’s licenses and business ID cards. He or a helper would put two-and-two fakes together – a bad check tied to a phony ID – and cash out at Publix, Wal-Mart or a local bank.
Ironically, investigators are using photo IDs off the forged IDs to track down the forger’s helpers.
While it is estimated that he made about $300,000 before getting caught, other fake ID episodes can be life or death situations.
A case in point is the use of state driver’s licenses and passports to go through airport security to board a plane. Based on recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, legislation established the Real ID program to increase security and standardize state-issued IDs. Real ID, still to be implemented, is under attack in some states and by some members of Congress. But Stewart Baker, former assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security, supports Real ID and recently testified that “for terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons. The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”
A recent incident spotlighted the trouble with identification cards when a woman and her daughter allegedly managed to pass TSA and security checkpoints using someone else’s ID. The incident turned out to be a faked kidnapping but “it could have been a lot worse than that, if the person using the fake ID went on the plane to cause harm to people. It could have been a much more disastrous result,” said U.S. Congressman Rob Andrews.
No matter the type of ID forgery or theft, it’s apparent that the business of fake IDs is getting more sophisticated. Investigators from the California Department of Motor Vehicles recently busted a counterfeiting operation and seized professional card printers, laminators, fraudulent California state seals, fraudulent DMV logos, laminating sheets, card stocks, phony California and Texas driver’s licenses, computers, ledgers and other evidence of document manufacturing equipment.
However, technology is catching up. There are devices that read and verify the validity of all types of state driver’s licenses, military IDs and U.S. passports. Much of such advantages are emerging from government and military needs.
For example, the Intellicheck Mobilisa Defense ID system is a mobile, hand-held device that can be used at checkpoints and retail stores to verify a driver’s licenses and also quickly run background checks all in a matter of seconds. The device is currently being used in various military checkpoints.
The security-enabled holograms built into ID cards, currency and tax stamps are another fake-fighting approach.
In one example, holograms in tax stamps help battle the illicit trade in cigarettes and alcohol, the two most smuggled and counterfeited products worldwide. Tax stamps are used to collect excise duties. And the cost is not just a financial one to governments. The damage caused by counterfeiting to a company’s brand reputation, loss of sales and market capitalization can be incalculable.
So the market for tax stamp holograms is the second largest after banknotes, according to Philip Hudson, chairman of the International Hologram Manufacturers Association. An estimated 124 billion tax stamps are issued annually for cigarettes while alcoholic drinks account for 12 billion. About 60 billion of the total features
A number of U.S. states now have rather simple holograms within their driver’s licenses. And enterprise identification cards and badges at times include a hologram.
Enterprise-Wide Visitor Management
Such was the case for Navistar International Corp. a manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks, midsized trucks, school buses, diesel engines and replacement parts. The company initially installed a single SVM (Secure Visitor Management) implementation in its Chicago corporate headquarters. After a few years, the company’s security department deployed visitor management on a enterprise basis.
According to Navistar security executive Michael Scribner, “We decided to upgrade to the latest version and ‘go enterprise’ at the same time. We went from being a corporate headquarters – only customer to 12 sites and manufacturing facilities in one upgrade cycle.”
The manufacturing facilities were particularly in need of Enterprise Visitor Management since they lacked any sort of standard for Visitor Management beyond simply having guards collect drivers’ licenses (and not even always doing that).
Each of Navistar’s SVM licenses are linked to a single, enterprise-wide database so that visitor information can be tracked and managed across the entire enterprise.
“Because we use a SQL database it’s very easy for us to set up a new site,” said Scribner. “We can quickly get updates enterprise-wide. We track and report on daily and monthly visitors, check-in and check-out times and other information our enterprise needs to more effectively manage our visitors and our security.”
For Navistar’s field locations, it is particularly important to know who is in what building at what times. According to Scribner, “we knew which employees were where and when, but we didn’t have much information about visitors and couldn’t go back in time to figure it out. When we finished our enterprise-wide deployment our upper management was shocked to learn that we have more than 140,000 visitors per year – and are approaching visitor number 500,000 to be badged by EasyLobby.”
Navistar also uses the system to flag former employees and vendors, a feature which has been particularly useful for managing visits by former employees with sensitive jobs.
Our premises are safer and, because our people feel safer, they are more productive,” Scribner said. “We actually set up a contest for our security guards to see who could become most proficient at checking visitors in – it was a great way to get our people proficient, and resulted in some true productivity gains, not to mention enhancing our security.”
Scribner said that NaviStar will soon use the system in its in South America, Europe and Asia facilities.
Keeping Schools Safe
Susan Jenkins, technology integration specialist at the school district, said, “At first our people were a little resistant to new technology and are not very tech savvy, however, they have quickly learned how to use the software and like it. It cuts down on fraudulent ID problems.” In addition, she added, “Our volunteer Coordinators love the option to have our volunteers quickly and easily check in and the option to run the reports every month.”
A school administrator can change badge categories, add two different tracking features for each badge and run reports. Some of the optional features include up to seven different visitor categories, a student module to track students leaving early and arriving late, a frequent visitor list for quick check-in, a driver’s license scanner for new visitor verification, a camera for positive ID, and a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) reader for frequent visitors or staff automatic check in.
The software also has a predator check feature that enables the administrator to access the U.S. Department of Justice’s sexual predator database and assure new visitors are not a registered child sexual offender.
The software also has a student module that allows schools to easily track tardy and early dismissal students so schools no longer have to keep separate logs. Parents click on the Student button, fill in their child’s name and reason, and then click to log the record and take their photo. The photo gives school proof of who picked up or dropped off the child.
5 Ways to Eliminate Fraudulent IDs
- You want to be able to fully automate the entire process when using a visitor registration system.
- Your visitor control software should be easy to install, easy to learn and easy to use.
- Your visitor control software should have the ability to capture a signature or take a photo if they don’t have a license to scan. You should also be able to enter any other information such as the “category” of visitor, name of the person being visited, and reason for the visit (all presented as a drop down list to choose from).
- Print a customized visitor badge - Your visitor badge software should add a time and date stamp to the visitor record for the check in time, and print the badge that you had specified for that visitor category (visitor ID badges can look different from contractor badges, etc.)
- Access and Analyze - Visitor monitoring software should be able to look up and sort visitors and visits by a variety of criteria.