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In the age of the internet, the classic teen rite of passage has never been easier

Andy’s* first fake ID arrived from China a few weeks into his freshman year of college.

He and a friend, both 18, decided they had better get IDs to buy beer, so they placed an order with IDGod, the biggest online fake ID vendor in the world. IDGod is both the name of the vendor and a real person, Andy explains; he first heard the name as a sophomore in high school from seniors who were getting their own IDs. “He’s a god, basically. A group of Chinese men — they may be gangsters or involved in organized crime, no one really knows for sure — formed IDChief, a huge fake ID operation that sold to teens in the U.S.,” he continues. “As they got bigger, tension grew on the inside, and they separated into different ‘companies,’ one of which became IDGod, which proved to be the most successful.”

Now a 19-year-old college sophomore in the Midwest, Andy has accumulated at least 20 more fake IDs. His reasoning is obvious (and timeless): Generation after generation, a fake ID has been a teenager’s golden ticket to a previously inaccessible realm of grown-up vices (booze, bars and casinos), making them both a Hollywood teen movie trope and a must-have for the not-quite-20-something.

You might think Andy doesn’t need two dozen fake IDs, but how else can he keep up with the rapid pace of technological innovation? “There are things people do to make sure they have the best product on the market, which is why people like me have so many IDs.” He showed me a couple photos of his latest — a fake Utah license considered to be one of the best currently on the market. (It certainly looked legit to me.) The key, he says, is replicating the unique perforations and microprint that are present on most real IDs under an ultraviolet light.

He suggests holding my California ID up to the light and looking for a small bear, one of the Golden State’s perforations. These are the security features a discerning fake ID customer looks for when shopping for vendors, since they’re the first things seasoned bouncers and liquor store owners look for when trying to spot a fake, and they’re nearly impossible to replicate without sophisticated machinery.

The biggest goal, however, is beating a fake ID owner’s worst nightmare: The spy Surveillance U Cameras Dummy Store Video qIwUYZZLike Looks Iphone New Unveiled Price Apple What By It Xs And 68nqxHn0d. The small box shows all the ID’s information on a screen that a bouncer, store owner or casino worker can easily look at to spot a fake. Box scanners scan the entire front and back of an ID and compare it to a real one. And as there are no perfect fake IDs, there’s no way to pass the scanner’s test. Thankfully, Andy says, they aren’t that common; they are mostly in our country’s preeminent college town, Boston.

For Andy, though, the best part of his fake IDs, which he’d like to collect from all 50 states, is that he uses them for far more than just buying booze. They’re a way to enrich your life, he says. If a museum in Chicago is offering half-price admission for state residents, he’ll whip out his fake Illinois ID. If the Bronx Zoo is running a similar promotion, he’s got a New York one.

But back to more traditional means: I ask Andy how his fake ID helps him with his romantic pursuits, since that’s a common motivator for male teens procuring them — it certainly was for the guys in Superbad. “I can’t really answer that question because I have a longtime girlfriend,” he says, noting that she also has a fake ID. That said, he enjoys going out and having a beer at dinner with her because it makes the relationship feel more mature. Same for when he’s hanging out with his friends: “I love buying them drinks and just relaxing with them after a long week. I don’t think I have more access to the world with a fake ID—I just have access to the more adult aspect of the world.”

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The fake ID racket wasn’t always so easy. In 1994, one of my 10th-grade classmates in boarding school purchased a fake ID kit from a graduating senior for $700. Even at 15, Phil* had a remarkable entrepreneurial spirit and naturally gravitated toward the prospect of cornering the fake ID market at our New England prep school. “Once I got out of the red,” he remembers thinking, “I’d be minting money.”

The $700 included a giant industrial laminator that hummed like a Xerox machine and took 20 minutes to warm up; a handful of overhead projector transparencies; a floppy disk containing a fraudulent template from the New Hampshire DMV; a signature from its commissioner; and a tutorial on how to combine them all to produce a license permitting the bearer to operate a motor vehicle in the state of New Hampshire. I was among Phil’s first customers and chose “Frederick Lunt,” a name I’d recently seen in my European history textbook. My roommate was “Stephen J. Olmstead,” and the Cuban across the hall went with “Muhammad Schnitzel.”

But Phil underestimated both the demand for his counterfeit product and the learning curve required to meet it, which involved a complicated, multi-step process. It included taking a specialized Polaroid photo in front of a blue towel hung over his dorm room door, placing it in an ID-cutting machine and stripping off the back layers to leave only a razor-thin photo. “But the guy [I bought if from] didn’t mention you needed a laser printer to print these things out,” he recalls. “I quickly learned the Id Picture Card Tours Dmz Koridoor To Wear The During Tour Of rraSU my parents bought me wasn’t gonna cut it.”

The only laser printer in the dorm was owned by Bill and Ross Wang — students from China who had been urged by the school to adopt “easier-to-pronounce” English names. “I had to lie to the Wang brothers and say I was printing out important legal documents,” Phil says.

This Fake Watch If For Itunes Terrifying Iphone Out An You Use “Eventually, though, the younger Wang caught me and told his brother who said, ‘We know what you’re printing on our computer. I’m not going to turn you in, but never come near our room again.’”

But word had already spread that there was a kid in the sophomore dorm making near-perfect replicas of Granite State IDs. The next day, Phil returned to find five seniors sitting in his room who wanted to attend an over-21 party at Stratton Mountain the following weekend and would kick his ass if he didn’t come through.

As a result, Phil had to make five IDs in a week — with no laser printer — or risk being beaten by five much larger males. Drawing on his aforementioned entrepreneurial prowess, he sneaked into the school computer lab to print them out, then quickly deleted the files from the common-use computer. “If I screwed anything up — if the lamination was off, if the picture slipped, if the ink smudged — I had to start all over again,” he remembers. “And if I was caught by a teacher, I’d be kicked out of school.”

Out This If For Fake Use You Watch Iphone Terrifying Itunes An The trademark of these IDs — and what managed to dupe hundreds of unsuspecting bouncers throughout New England — was a signature from the director of the New Hampshire DMV running vertically up the edge of the photo. Phil would take a piece of blue paper, tape on the stripped-down polaroid, add the vertical signature on a piece of transparency and feed it all into the laminator. If you added up the time of every step — the setup for the picture, taking the actual picture, finding a laser printer, printing out the ID on blue paper, transparencies, cutting board time, laminating it, etc. — it easily took two hours to make each fake ID.

“I would say a Hail Mary every time I sent them through, even though I am Jewish, because of all the work it would take just to get to that point,” Phil says.

He managed to pull it off, though, and the seniors were extremely grateful upon returning from Stratton. “In fact, some said my IDs were the only way they could get the much-needed booze for all the parties that weekend,” Phil boasts. As such, he quickly became the most popular and sought-after kid on campus. In total, Phil made 35 IDs and sold them for $50 a piece, totaling $1,700 — or roughly $24 an hour. “For a high school kid in 1994, that was a lot,” he says. “But still not worth it, of course.”

These days, to no one’s the surprise, the fake-ID industry has moved online. Most teenagers order fakes as they might cellphone accessories on Amazon. But vendors aren’t in Seattle, they’re in China — whose packages are seized daily at U.S. airports. As Bill Rivera, chief of the International Mail Branch at Kennedy International Airport told The New York Times in 2015, in the preceding year, 4,585 Chinese-made counterfeit IDs were intercepted, most of them headed to college students. “Quite frankly, some of them look pretty good,” he admitted.

It’s obviously daunting for teens to do business with nameless, faceless vendors in faraway lands, which is why entire online communities have sprung up to vet them. The Fake IDs subreddit, for example, where I met Andy, allows people to share