U.S. is cracking down on sites that sell fake IDs

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Congressional investigators and federal regulators are working together to crack down on Web sites selling fake identification cards to help curb the recent explosion of identity theft cases.

Criminals can use fake IDs, which can be found easily on the Internet or made with a home computer, to open bank or credit card accounts in someone else’s name. The scam, which has even happened to some lawmakers, has prompted congressional hearings and a more focused crackdown by investigators.

The Federal Trade Commission reports it receives about 1,700 calls per week to its identity-theft hotline, 1-877-ID-THEFT. The agency also publishes a Web site and printed pamphlet showing consumers how to protect themselves and take action against companies believed to be offering identity-theft tools.

This week, regulators announced that a federal court shut down a Web site that offered templates to help produce fake driver’s licenses and state identification cards.

The complaint alleges that Jeremy Martinez of Tarzana, Calif., sold 45 days of access to fake ID templates for $29.99. The site, identified in the complaint as ‘newid,’ contained "high-quality" templates for making fake driver’s licenses for several states, including California, New York and Florida.

"This is a no-brainer," the FTC’s director of consumer protection, Jodie Bernstein, said Monday. "Any business that empowers and encourages people to break the law should and will be shut down."

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, started an investigation last year into identity fraud on the Internet. She chairs the Senate’s subcommittee on investigations.

Kirk Walder, an investigator on the subcommittee, said they looked at more than 100 different Web sites and purchased some products undercover.

Walder said the committee bought an Oklahoma identification card from a Web site in Texas that was virtually identical to a real Oklahoma ID. It came in a plastic pouch marked "Not A Government Document," as required by law, but the card was easily removed from the pouch.

Walder said the Secret Service and Texas authorities shut down the site.

How a person can fall prey to identity fraud is limited only by the criminal’s imagination. Years ago, going through trash was a common way to grab prescreened credit card offers and other documents containing personal information.

But now, much of a person’s sensitive data can be found easily on the Internet. Criminals are also using e-mail to fool people into disclosing Social Security numbers, addresses and the like.

A Florida investigator told Collins’ subcommittee in May that over 30 percent of seized fake ID cards come from the Web.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

Bothell
2 injured in Bothell Everett Highway crash

The highway was briefly reduced to one northbound lane while police investigated the three-car crash Saturday afternoon.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
On I-5 in Everett, traffic nightmare is reminder we’re ‘very vulnerable’

After a police shooting shut down the freeway, commutes turned into all-night affairs. It was just a hint of what could be in a widespread disaster.

Anthony Brock performs at Artisans PNW during the first day of the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At downtown Everett musical festival: ‘Be weird and dance with us’

In its first night, Fisherman’s Village brought together people who “might not normally be in the same room together” — with big acts still to come.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge reduces bail for driver accused of killing Marysville trooper

After hearing from Raul Benitez Santana’s family, a judge decreased bail to $100,000. A deputy prosecutor said he was “very disappointed.”

Pet detective Jim Branson stops to poke through some fur that Raphael the dog found while searching on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Everett, Washington. Branson determined the fur in question was likely from a rabbit, and not a missing cat.(Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lost a pet? Pet detective James Branson and his dogs may be able to help

James Branson, founder of Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue, helps people in the Seattle area find their missing pets for $350.

Whidbey Renaissance Faire volunteers pose in their costumes. (Photo by Bree Eaton)
Faire thee well: Renaissance is coming to Whidbey Island

The volunteer-run fair May 25 and 26 will feature dancers, a juggler, ‘Fakespeare,’ various live music shows and lots of food.

Community Transit leaders, from left, Chief Communications Officer Geoff Patrick, Zero-Emissions Program Manager Jay Heim, PIO Monica Spain, Director of Maintenance Mike Swehla and CEO Ric Ilgenfritz stand in front of Community Transit’s hydrogen-powered bus on Monday, May 13, 2024, at the Community Transit Operations Base in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New hydrogen, electric buses get trial run in Snohomish County

As part of a zero-emission pilot program from Community Transit, the hydrogen bus will be the first in the Puget Sound area.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Video: Man charged at trooper, shouting ‘Who’s the boss?’ before shooting

The deadly shooting shut down northbound I-5 near Everett for hours. Neither the trooper nor the deceased had been identified as of Friday.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Road rage, fatal police shooting along I-5 blocks traffic near Everett

An attack on road workers preceded a report of shots fired Thursday, snarling freeway traffic in the region for hours.

The Port of Everett and Everett Marina on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is Port of Everett’s proposed expansion a ‘stealth tax?’ Judge says no

A Snohomish resident lost a battle in court this week protesting what he believes is a misleading measure from the Port of Everett.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.