Reported By Joseph Pleasant, Reporter - bio | email
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -
As college students head back to school, bars are studying up on the latest crop of fake IDs flooding the United States.
The fake ID's are so believable, even law enforcement officers have had trouble telling the difference.
At Coyote Ugly in downtown Nashville, the head of security has started training other bars on how to spot the fakes.
"The IDs out of Asia, which I think these are coming from China, are actually the best fake IDs we have ever seen," Tabari "T.K." Kimber said. "They are getting better. It's like every time you catch them with one detail, a better one is coming out that fixes that detail."
Coyote Ugly confiscates 20 to 30 fake IDs in an average weekend. They turn most of the counterfeits over to the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).
Others they keep to train staff on how to tell the difference between a real ID and a fake one.
"The main ones we are starting to catch are Ohio, Illinois, South Carolina," Kimber said. "Mississippi is now coming up, as is Pennsylvania and Kentucky."
A number of the IDs are ordered online from an Asian company that promises fake IDs that scan and have UV, as well as holographic elements.
In Knoxville, the TABC has confiscated more than 500 fake IDs from underage people caught trying to use them to get alcohol or gain admittance to bars.
The fakes look so authentic, the commission dropped several charges against Knoxville bar The Hill because TABC agents had trouble determining whether the fake IDs connected to the charges were counterfeit when looking at them.
The IDs were counterfeit.
"We have been working with local law enforcement trying to come up with ways to better check these Identifications," TABC's Chief Enforcement Officer Mark Hutchens said. "Even the federal government is having problems at airports and things like where their equipment won't pick up these false drivers licenses."
Four U.S. Senators called for China's Ambassador to the United States to tell the Chinese government to crack down on companies manufacturing fake ID cards and selling them to people in the United States.
Republican Senators Mark Kirk and Chuck Grassely joined Democratic Senators Dick Durbin and Tom Harkin in signing a letter sent to China's Ambassador Zhang Yesui, Monday.
The senators believe the ability to get fake IDs creates a risk to Homeland Security among allowing for other criminal activity.
The stakes are high for bars caught selling alcohol to minors.
"If they are licensed through us we are going to fine them and then the burden of proof is on them to prove they had no idea [the ID] was fake," Hutchens said.
Some bars have started requiring patrons to provide two forms of ID to combat the problem.
Coyote Ugly does not require two forms of identification to enter.
"If they actually get in our bar and one of our bartenders serves them a drink, it's a violation on the bartender and they can get like a $1,500 fine," Kimber said. "Then the bar will get fined as well as because the TABC is telling us it is our responsibility to stop minors from coming in our bar and drinking."
The TABC said parents should talk to their teens about underage drinking and the consequences.
The commission also wants parents to report the origins of fake IDs if they find them or know of someone making fake IDs.
Getting caught with a fake ID is a misdemeanor. If an underage person uses the ID to purchase alcohol they can face additional criminal charges.