BJ Yebisu / Mustang News

In a college town permeated with party culture, sometimes minors can feel pressured to obtain alcohol. Because of this, some students go out of their way to obtain fake identification cards (IDs)  or driver’s licenses so they can buy alcohol on their own.

Freshman Daniel (editor’s note: name and major are omitted to protect his identity) recently jumped hurdles to obtain a fake ID.

“Usually when I want to drink, I have an upperclassman buy alcohol for me,” Daniel said. “But there are times when it’s hard to get together; having a fake ID means that at any time I can go. It gives me a lot more freedom.”

Getting the ID

All Daniel had to do for the fake ID was pay the fee, which came out to about $80 to $90, provide a photo that met certain requirements, such as a plain light background and taken from the waist up, and provide whatever information he wanted printed. These requirements were shared with Daniel through social media.

Daniel was approached by a member of an organization he’s part of and was asked if he was interested in purchasing a fake ID. While there are multiple ways to obtain fake IDs, Daniel said he thought buying one from someone he knew would be safest. Other ways to get them include buying them from online sources or even making them yourself.

While some Cal Poly students are equipped with the materials and resources necessary to make fake IDs, such as laminators and heavy card stock, not everyone has access to them. Because of this, it is considered safer and easier to buy one that is professionally made.

After paying for his ID, Daniel had to wait several weeks for it to arrive. Fake IDs are produced in bulk; therefore, a certain number of orders is required before the seller can fill the entire order. These deals are usually spread by word of mouth and through a long chain of people. All Daniel knew was the ID was being forged somewhere out of state.

Until recently, social connections were required to get a fake ID. But now, things are different. There are several websites where they can be purchased. These websites price IDs differently based on what state they’re from — some states such as California are harder to forge for than a state like Ohio — and how many are being bought. Payment for these are usually made in one of two fashions: bitcoin or Western Union, a website that allows buyers to meet with sellers directly and pay them in cash.

The risks

Most restaurants and bars that serve alcohol require their staff to go through Licensed Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) training. The LEAD program is a free course offered through the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The program helps small businesses reduce the risk of liability and possibly even reduce insurance premiums for restaurants. While many restaurants require this training, the licenses obtained at the end of the course do not expire.

“We actually catch a lot of people with fake IDs,” Petra co-owner Rammy Aburashed said. “I think they’re attracted by our variety in beers. We have around 16 beers on tap and a whole variety of bottles available for sale. But when we catch people with fake IDs, we are required to call the police. All of our staff does a good job with spotting fakes; they go through their training and if they accidentally sell beer to a minor, the employee can get fined
around $5,000.”

Daniel is among students with fake IDs who choose to brave venues such as Petra rather than bars.

“I don’t think I’d ever try and sneak into a bar, though,” Daniel said. “For me, it’s just too risky and I feel like it’s not the place for me. I would much rather buy from a place like BevMo or Petra, not necessarily a bar but somewhere that still sells beer and stuff.”

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