CHICAGO–US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials discovered counterfeit driver’s licenses in inbound packages transiting through the international mailroom at O’Hare International Airport. In a routine inspection of packages, officials focused on forged documents manufactured outside the United States that might be used to impersonate young adults under the age of 21.
Forged documents are counterfeit documents that look like legal documents but are not issued by a legitimate organization or governmental agency and are not recognized as official travel or identification tools in the United States. Fake documents, such as these driver’s licenses, can be used by college students under the age of 21 to enter a bar or store that sells and serves alcohol. Unfortunately, these students are putting themselves at great risk by purchasing these fake documents.
“Fake driver’s licenses are used by young adults who are under the legal drinking age,” said Shane Campbell, Chicago area port director. “Not to mention the criminal penalties, CBP’s interception of these IDs will greatly reduce the likelihood of underage purchases of alcohol and hopefully lessen the consequences of their actions, including fatal accidents.”
From April 1-15, CBP officers in Chicago seized 122 shipments containing 743 counterfeit US driver’s licenses from all parts of the US including: Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Mississippi, Texas, Connecticut, Utah, Minnesota , South Dakota, Washington and Illinois. All driver’s licenses were hidden in handbags, jewelry boxes and various toys. Most driver’s licenses originate in China and are en route to US residences. Only two companies are authorized by the US Department of State to print international driver’s licenses in the US: The American Automobile Association (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA). The IDs are considered fake due to the lack of fine line detail and have characteristics that do not match the document type.
While CBP often sees these dark web transactions, according to LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations-Chicago Field Office, the justification for buying fake IDs from teenagers trying to get into bars has become more nefarious activities developed. “Some of the biggest concerns related to fraudulent identification documents are identity theft, workplace enforcement, critical infrastructure protection, fraud related to immigration-related crimes such as human smuggling and human trafficking, and these documents can be used by individuals associated with terrorism to minimize their screening by travel control measures.”
CBP officials are coordinating identification results with CBP’s Division of Fraudulent Document Analysis, Homeland Security Investigations, and other federal partners to combat illegal activity. Visit CBP’s YouTube channel to learn more about how CBP’s Office of Field Operations is securing our nation’s borders.
CBP routinely conducts inspections of arriving and departing international flights and intercepts narcotics, weapons, currency, prohibited agricultural products, counterfeit goods and other illegal items at our country’s 328 international ports of entry.