sioux falls, sd
Fake IDs have been around for years, but new technology is making it easier than ever to make them. Some of the best counterfeits are coming from overseas. Ask any bar owner and they'll tell you some of them are pretty sophisticated.
They have the exact photos, date of birth information, some even have holograms. But every one of these identification cards is a fake.
And they are becoming a big problem for bar owners and law enforcement.
"I thought I was going to jail," Susan said.
This woman, who asked us not to identify her so we'll call her Susan for this story, was caught using a fake ID at a local bar six months before she turned 21.
"The bouncer pulled me out and tried to have me identify the information on the driver's license," Susan said. "Of course, I had memorized all the information on there I possibly could, my picture matched and it came down to getting busted when they had me sign her signature and our penmanship didn't match."
At Borrowed Bucks Roadhouse, owner Kirk Keupp sees his fair share of fake IDs.
"It really varies, but I would say we probably catch anywhere from eight to 15 a week," Keupp said.
Keupp works with his staff to spot counterfeits.
"We do everything possible to try and stop them with the security we have at the front door and them being very aware of the IDs and what they should look like, what should be on them," Keupp said.
They study books that show the driver's license cards issued in every state, even ones from foreign countries. But even Keupp admits, unless you look closely, the fakes ones are hard to spot sometimes.
"The biggest problem we have with fake IDs right now is that they are so readily available over the internet, web sites where you can go to to get a decent fake ID," Keupp said.
We Googled fake IDs. There are lots of websites in China where you can buy them, some priced between $200 and $300 a piece.
Getting caught using a fake ID may seem like a pretty harmless crime, but prosecutors say the consequences can be long term and devastating.
"You're generally not going to possess a false ID unless you're going to commit another crime with that ID," Minnehaha County State's Attorney Aaron McGowan said.
McGowan says his office prosecutes about 300 cases each year. He says most of those are classified as a misdemeanor. But get caught using one and your problems could be just beginning.
"We have a lot of offenses that are at our disposal. Some of those could count as a crime of dishonesty and be a permanent mark on someone's record if they are looking at a job where they need to get bonded or in the banking industry. All these crimes can have a real detrimental effect as far as future career opportunities," McGowan said.
Susan never went to jail. The bouncers just kept her fake ID. But she knows it could have been a lot worse.
"It comes down to where it'll stay on your record. It follows you whether you are trying to apply for a job or even credit issues. They'll check your criminal background too and see how trustworthy you are; it's not worth it," Susan said.