There is a $100 million industry that nobody is talking about. This is because the product produced by the industry is illegal: fraudulent identification documents. Unfortunately, research into this illicit market has been historically limited to investigations of specific fraud cases. Such focused investigations do not yield broad data that can be shared with the general public. But now, IDEMIA has partnered with several research organizations to track and document the sources of fake IDs.
As the market leading provider of secure state-issued driver’s licenses, IDEMIA sponsored research conducted by the foremost card security experts. The research team collaborated to conduct an in-depth examination of the materials, quality and features of fraudulent U.S. state driver’s licenses, and the experts identified several important takeaways.
- Most fake IDs look real to the naked eye: When conducting the study, lab analysis found that fake ID manufacturers do not attempt to replicate the same materials as authentic credentials or create documents that could pass laboratory examination, but it would not matter even if they did. This is because the material fake IDs are made with today look so good to the naked eye that further technology-enabled examination is required to determine if an ID is fake or not.
- One-for-one matches are nearly unheard of: Similar to the findings regarding the materials used to construct a fake ID, it appears that fraudulent identification vendors make no effort to fully match the material construction of the authentic credential. Rather, they replicate patterns often found within a legitimate ID, simply getting the match close enough to appear passable to the naked eye.
- Document authentication scanners are a tested, proven solution: Based on the findings of this study, it is clear that there are better ways to identify fraudulent IDs. While most fake IDs pass the eyesight test, and the majority of barcodes are scannable, they simply do not stand up against document authentication scanners that identify secure machine-readable features embedded within an authentic ID. Using ID scanners that cross-reference the specific details in an ID against the authentic version can play a significant role in limiting fraud. For example, IDEMIA has developed multiple secure machine-readable solution that can be encoded in a DL/ID credential that allow for the licenses to be easily and securely authenticated. IDEMIA currently produces authentication software and hardware scanners of this nature that help reduce this problem, and this research will further improve the performance of these scanners by adding to the robust underlying document template library to reduce the likelihood of the latest fake IDs passing as authentic.
This study was the first of its kind, and the research is ongoing to learn more about the market and how to combat it. Fortunately, the research also confirmed that IDEMIA’s card security features are robust and not replicable by fake ID vendors, adding an additional level of security between fake IDs and authentic IDs.
While further industry research is conducted, the fake ID market should not continue to be ignored. There can be much greater ramifications beyond the common use of fake IDs for underage drinking. For example, these IDs can be used to gain legitimate IDs, which can lead to fraud or other nefarious activities. By continuing to invest in this research, we will not only learn more about the fake ID market itself, but how we can work to stop it at the source.
Individuals interested in learning more who are affiliated with AAMVA and/or state DMVs can request the full report by contacting IDEMIA.