The Cook County Sheriff's office has issued citations to forty young adults accused of purchasing fake IDs from China. The IDs were allegedly bought from websites by high school and college students, ages 17 to 20, living on Chicago's North Side and in the northern suburbs.
The individuals supplied their names, photos and signatures to the websites, which would then produce high quality fake IDs, according to the Sheriff's office. The IDs were hidden inside packing for electronics and jewelry.
Cook Country Sheriff Tom Dart says parents and children should use the bust as a warning to be careful about identity theft.
"The warning is really on two fronts; both for the criminal side of it, that you’re going to get in problems with the law obviously, but then on a personal side, you will potentially destroy your financial background forever," said Dart.
"It's sort of a financial manipulator's dream come true. Kids who are anxious to illegally get alcohol are willing to give away everything," he continued.
Dart says the youths could have been charged with a Class 4 felony for possession of a fake driver's license, but the licenses were intercepted before they received them, beginning in late April. If convicted, the suspects will also have to complete community service and pay a fine.
According to the Sheriff's office, more than 1,700 fake IDs have been intercepted in the Chicago area since January. The U.S. Customs and Immigration Agency is in the middle of an ongoing investigation into the websites producing the IDs.
"I can tell you from my battles with Craigslist and some of these other ones, good luck shutting down websites," Dart added. "It’s very very tricky. This bizarre notion that there’s some type of corporate sense of responsibility doesn’t exist…add to it that it’s a website connected to a foreign country, it’s very very difficult."