Liquor stores see surge in underage fake ID usage

It's no secret many teens and young adults who aren't old enough to drink will do what they can to get their hands on alcohol. 

Mac Thurston is the owner of Mac's Beer & Wine Midtown Liquor and has recently noticed a growing number of authentic-looking fake identification cards presented by underage customers at his Midtown Atlanta store.

"It's something we're always vigilant about. It's always there. It's always happening and it's scary how good the cards look," said Thurston, who is also the president of the Georgia Alcohol Dealers Association.

His business is located on Peachtree Place and sits in close proximity to several Atlanta colleges. He said staff members have confiscated about 90 fake ID cards this semester with an application designed by Intellicheck — a tech company that verifies government-issued ID cards.

"It either goes green for go, yellow means we need to hold this sale for just a moment and take a little closer look at the ID, but if it hits red, no go. No sale," said Thurston.

At Mac's, that's an automatic confiscation of the fake card. In the rare event that someone wants to dispute a red result, there's an officer on duty who can run the card against state records.

"At that point, a lot of people understand OK, game over," said Thurston, who's been in business 34 years.

Intellicheck CEO Bryan Lewis said young people order a lot of authentic-looking cards online from vendors overseas. But many fraudulent identity card makers are directly targeting fraternities, sororities and even high school students who are willing to pay good money for a bad card.

"The criminals now have this down to a science where they can even print these in the back of a van with a generator and a high-quality printer and just order the right plastic from China. The pricing I was looking at for Georgia, if you order one by yourself, it's $200. If you order one with one a friend, it's $80 or four or more and they drop to $70 dollars," said Lewis.

Lewis said clients have reported a higher volume of authentic-looking fake identification cards all across the country. He hopes state lawmakers will crackdown on the problem, but said in the meantime, parents should intervene.

"Make sure the kids know you can get into serious trouble for this. Depending on where you're at, you can get charged with felonies for having these fake IDs. But if states don't change the laws, people that want to just let kids have it are going to do it because all they'll do is look at the license and they're absolved of any liability and that needs to change," Lewis added.

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