Friday, 19 August 2011 00:00
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer was in Nassau County last week and called on the major wire transfers services to work with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to identify and block cash payment transfers to operators in China that peddle fake drivers’ licenses that are indistinguishable from the real thing. These high-tech Chinese-made fake IDs include features like holograms, watermarks, and magnetic strips, making them almost identical to driver’s licenses issued by state Departments of Motor Vehicles. These IDs, manufactured in China, are shipped throughout the country and hidden in shoeboxes and other packaging to disguise their contents and evade authorities.
“Underage drinking on Long Island is already an epidemic, and the last thing we need is for scam artists in China to add fuel to the fire by providing fake IDs to underage kids,” said Schumer. “The Department of Homeland Security needs to identify the source of these outrageous fakes and work with wire service companies to strangle the source of their funding and shut them down.”
Schumer said that fake IDs from China are sold for anywhere between $100-$300, depending on the quantity of IDs ordered.
In a letter to the major wire services, Schumer pointed out that while at one time fake IDs were primarily created and manufactured with primitive means in college dorm rooms, this onetime cottage industry has become highly sophisticated and has created a significant customer base throughout the United States. Schumer noted that he would be reaching out to the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate efforts with these wire services to help crackdown on the sale of these fake IDs, both to stem the tide of underage drinking and to stop other potentially illegal and dangerous activities that phony identification could be used for.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2009, 33 percent of young drivers (15 to 20 years old) who were killed in crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 or higher and 28 percent had a BAC of .08 or higher – the legal limit for alcohol content for individuals over 21 years of age. According to the Century Council, a not-for-profit funded by distillers that works to combat underage drinking, there were 45 alcohol-related fatalities in New York in 2009 involving underage drinkers; 279 teens under 18 were arrested for drunk driving, and 895 teens under the age of 18 were arrested for violating liquor laws.
According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research there were 624 police-reported alcohol-related accidents in Nassau County in 2009, of which 24 were fatal. In total there were 28 deaths and 526 injuries. Nassau ranks second among counties in New York State in terms of the number of drunk driving accidents and fatalities. In Suffolk, there were 962 police-reported alcohol-related accidents in 2009. Forty-eight of those crashes were fatal, resulting in 50 deaths and 779 injuries. Suffolk ranks first in New York for drunk driving accidents and fatalities.
“These phony IDs are nothing more than all-access passes that allow underage kids to illegally gain entry into bars and liquor stores that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to get into,” said Schumer. “The consequences of underage drinking are too severe and too heart breaking to allow this to go on unchecked. By identifying the source of these IDs and cutting off funding, we can help ensure that Long Island families aren’t forced to deal with the tragedies that often result from underage drinking.”