Faking it

By Lara Sokoloff

He flashed his ID at the entrance to Avalon, a club in Hollywood. The bouncer shined his black light against the card and glanced at Logan* ’12.

“The bouncer just said ‘This is fake, leave.’ And I wasn’t able to get it back,” Logan said. “It was a club I had gone to successfully three times before, but apparently the ID had an issue with the black light.”

The punishments for possession of a fake ID vary, Detective Mike McPherson of the Los Angeles Police Department said. Many IDs use the offender’s real name and change only his birthday, for which he could be found guilty of counterfeiting a government seal. The offender is guilty of identity theft only if the ID is in someone else’s name. The punishment also increases if the offender is over 18.

“If you’re 18 years old, you’ve crossed a line,” McPherson said. “You’re now responsible for your own actions.”

For juveniles, the penalties could be a fine to the parents, time in a detention facility or community service. As an adult, the offender could be fined and sent to jail. The misdemeanor also goes on the offender’s permanent record, Maureen Rodriguez of the City Attorney’s office said.

Logan got his first fake ID for his 17th birthday to gain entry to clubs and musical festivals that only admit those over 18 or 21. He occasionally used it to buy alcohol.

“A lot of clubs are 21-plus just for the sake of facilitating bar service because it’s where they make a lot of their money,” he said. “Eighteen is also a common restriction age just for legal liability reasons.”

As a musician, Logan attends festivals and clubs for enjoyment and inspiration, he said. His parents purchased his first fake ID for $200. After it was taken, he bought two new ones, which he uses about twice a month, online for $100.

Trevor* ’12 also purchased an ID for 18-plus and 21-plus events like concerts and music festivals.

“Obviously every once in a while it will come in handy just to pick something up, but that’s not the primary reason,” he said.

Trevor said he also uses his fake to buy drinks at dinner but not as often to get into bars and clubs. Trevor got his ID for $150 through someone who used to go to Crossroads School. He uses his ID “very often during the weekends,” he said.

Trevor recently had his ID confiscated but purchased a new one through a popular online service. He bought his ID in a group of three or four to get a discount, he said. To pay for the ID, Trevor had to wire money to an account number given to him by a site representative. Trevor said he received his ID in a chopsticks box.

“I thought he had actually sent me chopsticks,” he said. “I sat there [looking] at a box of chopsticks, thinking he had screwed me.”

Evaline* ’12 got an ID for her older sister’s bachelorette party. She used it once to buy alcohol and lost it partying. Evaline paid $125 for hers, which she obtained through her friend’s boyfriend.

“The fake one was literally your exact same ID, your same picture, same information, same everything,” she said. “It was a very real ID, I thought.”

Evaline said that had she not lost her ID, she would have used it to buy alcohol but not to go to bars or drink out in public places.

Susanna* ’12, however, got an ID to have a new thing to do at night, she said.

“My friends and I thought it would be fun to maybe go out to bars,” she said. “I also don’t think it’s fair if you’re stealing your parents’ alcohol. Obviously that wasn’t the main reason, but it’s part of it.”

Susanna got her ID at the end of junior year from an upperclassman. She said she wasn’t sure where he had gotten it from. She paid $180 and uses it once a week during the school year but more often during summer vacation.

“I know a lot of people who have them,” she said. “I use mine a lot more than other people because I’m not really afraid of it. If you look older, it usually works better.”

“I tend to not think twice about breaking rules if I’m serving the purpose of the rule, even though I am technically breaking it,” he said. “The [purpose] of having something be 21-plus is to have people not drinking, and if I’m not drinking, I don’t have moral qualms whatsoever about that.”

Evaline said she initially hesitated to use her ID even when she knew the liquor store was known to sell alcohol to underage drinkers.

“Inside I was freaking out, like ‘Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,’” she said. “Then I just kind of flashed it. It was not a big deal.”

Susanna said she has also come to know which places are more lenient.

“Once you have an ID, you become aware of which places are pretty strict with their carding,” she said. “Some store owners will be fine. I mean you’re purchasing something, and even if your ID looks a little questionable, they are making a profit off of it.”

A business who knowingly sells to underage customers could be charged for a misdemeanor and may face losing its liquor license. Other possible consequences include a fine or jail time, Rodriguez said.

“As we’ve gotten older, it comes in handy, but it’s definitely expensive and there’s definitely a risk involved in having it,” Trevor said. “But a lot of kids, especially seniors, are starting to have them.”

 

*names have been changed

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