BERKELEY (CBS 5) – Chinese companies appear to be flooding the U.S. with very realistic looking fake drivers licenses, and according to both local and federal law enforcement it is a growing concern.

The fake IDs are showing up in bars and clubs all over the Bay Area and the state according to Chris Albrecht with the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. “14-, 15-,16-year olds are regularly found in possession,” said Albrecht.

Albrecht keeps a collection of fakes and noted old-fashioned detection techniques aren’t enough any more. “Counterfeiting has become a much more sophisticated business and counterfeiters are, in fact, trying to mimic a lot of the security features that are in place,” he said.

At bars like Kip’s in Berkeley where IDs show up from all over the country, manager John Boyle considers himself an expert “It’s easier to get through TSA than to get through our door,” he said.

But sometimes the fake ids are look just as good or better than the real ones, said Boyle. The most popular fakes these days: Arizona drivers licenses.

“From my understanding a lot of them are coming from China,” said Boyle.

UC Berkeley police recently confiscated a shipment of fake IDs from China. “We were contacted by the Department of Homeland Security,” said Lt. Marc Decoulode.

Decoulode said the feds intercepted the package, containing 24 fake drivers licenses, which was headed to a campus fraternity. “They put their true name and a false date of birth so even if someone were to ask for a second piece of ID, like a university student ID, the name and the photo would match the fraudulent ID.

Police said the Berkeley IDs were purchased through a website which advertised realistic-looking drivers licenses from a dozen different states, though none from California.

Patrick, a CBS 5 production assistant, went to the site to order one of the fake IDs. Following directions on the site he stood for a photograph, took a snapshot of his own signature, and uploaded the photos to an order form. “It was almost too simple, it was really easy,” said Patrick.

A day later came directions to wire money to a Demai Xu in the city of Fuzhou, China.

Which he did, sending $200-cash from a Western Union outlet. Two weeks later the package arrived. Inside, hidden underneath the fake bottom of a silverware set: 2 Arizona drivers licenses. They felt real, seemed well made, complete with holograms and a magnetic strip.

So how are the counterfeiters getting away with it? The ABC’s Chris Albrecht told us: “With blind shipments and that kind of thing, it becomes very difficult to investigate thoroughly.”

But it’s just the kind of case the U.S. Postal service does investigate. “There’s probably going to be a number of federal and state agencies that will be very interested in this,” said postal inspector Jeff Fitch.

He said the packaging alone was suspicious. “They’re declaring it as jewelry and we’ve got a fork and a spoon here and the documents are probably underneath so they obviously know what they are doing is wrong.”

The concern is that these IDs could be used for a lot more than getting into bars. “ID theft, ID fraud. Sky’s the limit,” said Fitch.

Kip’s manager John Boyle agreed that the implications are serious. Though Boyle noticed some irregularities in the IDs that told him they were fake, he claimed doormen at most bars and clubs would never notice and neither would the TSA. Boyle said all he can do is play it safe, and when in doubt he just says ‘no.’

The TSA declined to comment for this story. The California DMV couldn’t comment either about other states’ drivers licenses, but told us the new California driver’s license, which has enhanced security features, has not been counterfeited to their knowledge.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (48)
  1. PLW says:

    China is good at copying papers, clothing, computers, vehicles, and anything else made in the United States. They cannot develope or invent anything on their own, but copy others’ inventions. The United States is not going to do a thing about it, because we owe China sooooooooooooo much money!

  2. Anthony Barns says:

    China is the leading country of the new century. LOL…leading my stinky foot.

  3. Tropgrn says:

    Really why does it matter? In other countries that are actually FREE the fascist idea of checking who a person is, checking their identification, just because they want to go into a bar, does not even exist. This prohibition era nonsense wastes huge amounts of money and resources.

    1. Jack says:

      Are you a cartoon character?

    2. ron says:

      Well then why not let 13 year olds into bars?

    3. wildbill6996 says:

      Bet you haven’t been out of the COUNTY you live in, much less the COUNTRY. Don’t be a DUMBA$$ your entire life !!!!!!!!!

  4. don says:

    dont blame china or chinese, there is a market for these fake goods, blame the society in general

    1. Jack says:

      How about blame both?!?!?

    1. me says:

      We can implant an “eye” phone in every kid, which will actually be a mind control device.

  5. Chang says:

    I totally agree with Don.

  6. Mike says:

    How far does the U.S plan on allowing China to infiltrate our society.

  7. Miller Watts says:

    Wow … I know over 30 kids that have done this exact thing.. they asked if i was interested, I thought about it , then decided naw, I’m not going to send 75$ to some Chinese province via western union.This is ridiculous, NOT COOL CHINA !

    1. JOHNNYBRAVO says:


      1. HistoryRepeatsItself says:

        Yes why don’t we create a country-wide snitch mentality. The reason KGB, and other “internal affairs” agencies knew so much about people, is not because they had such great agents and surveillance equipment, (though that helped). It was because neighbors, reported on their neighbors.

  8. ray says:

    can chinese just stop making these counterfeiting shiiiiiiiiiiit?
    can they just make honest money?

    1. John says:

      They dont know HOW to make honest money.

  9. Brian says:

    The article made it sound like all of the sudden we have a fake ID problem in US and it’s from China. Last time I checked, we’ve been having fake ID problem for a very long time. It’s just that now crooks in China also jumped into the business. If there’s no such a market in US, no one will do this kind of thing. Clean up yourself before blaming others for your problem.

    1. ron says:

      OF COURSE THERE IS A MARKET FOR ILLEGAL stuff. I get it…just let anything in..drugs, weapons, you name it. That will solve the problem. Right.

  10. Joe says:

    It’s against the law for the under age kids to buy fake id’s. China is not breaking the law, last time I checked China is a different country and does not need to obey U.S. laws. However, the people purchased the illegal Id’s in the U.S. need to follow the laws of the land. Where does it states in the article that U.S. citizens are responsible for following rules and regulations? Instead, the article points out that China is responsible for illegal activities. If it is not China, it will be a different country providing what the market demands.

  11. joubaur says:

    China, the land of the thief!

    1. Tom Jones says:

      America gave it permission to steal… everything we utilize comes from Asia, for the most part. Don’t blame them, blame us, white people anyway!

  12. Pelotas Colon says:

    I think it is a safer bet to remove illegal immigrants from South America, who drive on the roads with fake IDs.

  13. adam says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen…you are probably wearing a Chinese made under ware and panties! Blame yourself and not the China. They produce it cheap and sell it cheap and that is what everyone wants…bargain!

  14. ron says:

    Leave it to China….

    The people here and in China know what they are doing is illegal. I don’t buy the defense of “well its not illegal in China. BS”. They know it is and those websites should be taken down.

  15. Kennith says:

    Once again made in China

  16. dAVID says:

    is it possible to arrest an entire nation?

  17. jay says:

    the chinese are selling what the west wants
    blame the west for BUYING these items

  18. ran says:

    now now china is our ally so suck it up and kiss their ass just like obama does. after all it does create jobs for the forgers and the bouncers who check id’s.

  19. ten says:

    hey don’t hate the player, hate the game, underage white chicks need their fake ids so they can get wasted and give it all up to all the playas, gotta love those snickers lickers! much love to the chinese

  20. Dayfydd Griffing says:

    Interesting that the TSA has nothing to report… We’d like a little something from you after the billions it costs us to have you jam up security lines.
    The security we had before could have been trained much easier and much cheaper.

  21. Cathy says:

    If CA can outsource the rebuilding of the San Fran-Oakland Bay Bridge to China, what’s the big deal here?

  22. Francesca says:

    Everyone in the Bay area has been aware of fake I.D.s and illegal Chinese in California. The INS should take a trip to all the Chinese Business in China Town, Clement Street and further where the Chinese is employing illegals.
    For years the residents of San Francisco and the Bay Area have been aware of boats dropping loads of illegals right here in our Bay.
    An investigation by the Immigration Officials is long overdue!
    They have been focusing on the Mexicans, but they should take a closer look on the growth of Chinese, who does not speak English, have not come to the Bay Area legally, and are hired by the Chinese Business all over Northern California.

    1. ALL AMERICAN says:

      Amen to that!!!
      ICE, broaden your area of search and enforce the law. Mexico does not represent a real threat to the US economy but China does. Need to be carefull with the Chinese, they are spilling all over the world.

    2. Ted says:

      I certainly agree with you Francesca, Back in the 70’s or 80’s I believe Immigration officials were busted for selling permanent resident papers to chinese illegals for about 30 or 40,000. So this is not something new, and it will get worst now that we have chinese politicians.

  23. nummers says:

    This is easily solved – allow anyone over the age of 16 to drink. I’m not saying to allow them to drive drunk of course, but if they want the booze, they’re going to get it. Personally I’d rather have someone with a valid id drinking than create a market for a fake one and deal with all the BS that goes along with that.

    Prohibition doesn’t work. Kids under 16 should be allowed to drink, but only under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian. That way, they LEARN how to drink properly before they get to do it “legally” on their own, and try to do so without any experience whatsoever. That’s 99% of the problem right there – not knowing HOW to drink responsibly. You have to learn, and to learn, you have to be taught or figure it out on your own. Personally, I’d rather teach them the right way rather than having them be all sloppy and f’d up because they don’t know…

  24. mendenson says:

    This is not more then a obama birthers story.
    How about others, drug, money, weapons, sex salary, childer labors ?
    There are conterfiting ID in bay area and reported so many times, the closest one to me is east bay.

  25. Shrugged says:

    Here is Obama’s plan to get re-elected. Fake IDs and multiple votes by the tens of thousands. I’ll bet the SEIU is helping – like they helped with the voting machines for Harry Reid.

  26. yep says:

    where was this service when I was a freshmen in college.

  27. whistlewhile you wor says:

    When someone is found with a suspected driver’s license it does not matter how difficult it is to detect its authenticity or not. If the owner can’t remember which DMV he got it from, when he went, what time was his test, what were some of the questions asked, etc, he/she are busted. But the real problem is that chinese are coming across the same Mexican border as Mexicans and tens of thousands of central and South Americans, applying for political asylum, and getting it due to the liberal officers infiltrated in USCIS. The chinese first try to obtain legal residence through fraudulent marriages. When the fraud is discovered and the immigrant visa denied, they simply take a plane anyway to mexico from where they then get smuggled over the border and voila, we want political asylum based on another set of lies. Americans need to write their congressmen and senators to demand the ouster of the liberal directorate presently at the head of USCIS. Google “grassley mayorcas” and see what this senator wrote about what really goes on right under everyone’s noses…

  28. Ted Al says:

    I’ve heard of people being pulled over for speeding in TN, GA with fake id’s and the cop didn’t even know it was a a fake ID. Sounds like all someone has to do to *become a different person is obtain a name ,license #, and DOB. Slap the crooks picture on the ID and voila, they become a different person. There have been cases where innocent people have outstanding warrants in states they’ve never been to! And when you have a license, and a fake birth cert(with correct matching info of course), you can go to the social security agency and get your victims SS# pretty easily. From there, who knows what they’ll do. But at the very least open a few credit cards , or maybe even apply for a loan in your name!

  29. Bill Nye the Science Guy says:

    I don’t see why so many response have been badmouthing the Chinese, or their society at all. This is an American problem, and an American one alone. If it were a profitable risk for an American company to make the ids, do you not think that they would?
    There is not a problem like this is other societies because their drinking ages are lower than ours here, so they do not have to deal with college kids trying to get into a bar on campus with a fake id. Once someone is in college, their level of maturity usually is high enough to control how much they should or should not drink. But having 14 or 15 year old kids show up at a bar trying to get in is a problem. However, do not blame the Chinese or say they don’t know how to make an honest dollar.

  30. Rod says:

    The fake ID problem is actually an excessively high minimum age to purchase alcohol problem.

  31. Francesca says:

    What if anything can the Government do about it?
    The Chinese are everywhere, and they are a lot of illegals, why should they be allowed to remain working without the Immigration checking on them.
    If anyone, the Mexicans at least were in California before we took it away from them. I heard around the 70’s and 80’s something like this.
    “We let one in, and will get them all!” This was in reference to the outpouring of Chinese in Northern California.

  32. tammy says:

    This has been going on since the drinking age went up from 18 to 21. I don’t understand that this country will allow 18 year olds to carry guns and die for our country but they are not responsible to go into a bar.

    I don’t encourage 18 year olds to go out drinking but it just seems wrong to allow them into the “services” if we as a country don’t think the are responsible. Maybe, we should increase the age to 21 across the board then we won’t be confussed as to when Americans are considered “adults”