The federal raid on Rugby Road in Charlottesville that busted a fake ID ring was not just about stopping young adults under 21 who want to drink alcohol or go to bars. Counterfeiting driver's licenses is part of a growing national security problem that has local and national law enforcement working together.
Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, fake IDs have become a focus of border control, Homeland Security and local law enforcement.
Sometimes the little pieces of plastic attract people with not-so-innocent motives.
"Having even one good ID card can then be used to get other ID cards. Let's just say for example you're a known terrorist and your name is on every wanted list in town so you get a fake ID with a photo and some innocent person's name and address, you're not that terrorist anymore so it's a serious problem," said law professor Bob Turner of the UVA Center for National Security.
According to Turner, many terrorists have dozens of identifications.
"If they get identified in Paris to kill someone they can leave town on a Spanish passport using another name. We use ID cards to identify people and so a bad guy can change his identity to someone else and can get away with horrible things," he said.
Turner says the punishment for making fake IDs is 15 years per count and 30 years if the purpose is domestic terrorism. But despite these penalties, Google lists a host of businesses that create ID cards.
"Some of them genuinely look quite authentic when you encounter them," said Lt. Ronnie Roberts of the Charlottesville Police Department.
Roberts says most violators are students, trying to get drinks and smokes.
"Class one misdemeanor can net a person the loss of a license, a jail sentence and one year of incarceration and then the other side is losing your driver's license for a period of time," said Roberts.
So no matter how old you are, the penalties can be stiff.
College students with fake IDs not only face criminal penalties, but also honor code violations.
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