Fake IDs: An Epidemic On Campus

Students continue to use order and use fake IDs despite the risks.

To knowingly possess or display a fraudulent identification card is a class 4 felony that can come with a minimum $500 fine or 50 hours of community service, according to Illinois state law. Advertising, selling or transferring a fake identification card is also in direct violation of state law.

Despite the risk, some Loyola students continue to order and use fake IDs to purchase alcohol and nicotine and to gain entry clubs and bars. 

“An overwhelming majority of the people I know have them, and if they don’t have one they are trying to buy one,” said Jason, a sophomore who spoke only on the condition of anonymity and chose to use a pseudonym for this story.

Several students interviewed echoed this sentiment, estimating that 70-90% of the people they know either have a fake ID or are looking to procure one. 

Though the threat of being caught with a fake ID looms, some students see the consequences of getting caught with one as insignificant. 

Jason said he had his fake ID taken at a bowling alley after trying to purchase alcohol but faced no further consequences.

“They didn’t even kick me out, they were just like, ‘Yeah I can’t serve you,’” Jason said. “But my friends still got us the beer.” 

Jason and several other students said that in a large city full of crime, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) would not bother to arrest or prosecute someone committing the petty crime of using a fake ID.

CPD media representatives did not respond to request for comment regarding this allegation.

One sophomore, who chose to remain anonymous and use the pseudonym Jane, said because there are no frat houses at Loyola, students are more likely to go to clubs and bars to have a good time.

Other students, including a sophomore who chose to remain anonymous and use the pseudonym Conner, said the culture of Chicago, specifically the fact that the city has a big bar scene, explains the prevalence of fake IDs. 

Some students who chose not to purchase fake IDs feel pressured by the social alienation of not being able to go out with their peers, like Alise David, a 20-year-old junior.

“People would ask me why I don’t have one and how I’m gonna have to wait before I can go out,” David, the nursing major, said. “I felt less pressured and a little bit more ostracized in a sense, because I just haven’t been able to be included in a lot of group activities when it comes to going out.”

Some students she knows who don’t drink still go out of their way to purchase fake IDs just to be included in group activities, according to David. 

Bars throughout Chicago vary in severity when it comes to ID enforcement, according to Jane. Leo Lopez is a manager at Rogers Park Social, a bar near Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus and said underage drinking is something he takes seriously.

“Every establishment that serves alcohol needs to be strict about it,” Lopez said. “We do our best to keep track of who is eligible to drink at a bar.” 

Students, including a sophomore who chose to remain anonymous and use the pseudonym Lee, said at some establishments, they were served alcohol without providing any ID. Lee pointed to areas like Wrigleyville and Boystown as places where enforcement is higher.

Conner believes the money underage drinkers bring to bars is the reason many places turn a blind eye to fake IDs.

The most common ways for a fake to be discovered are through flaws in the design and the owner not knowing the specifics listed on the ID, according to students who have had their fake IDs taken. 

Lopez said the most common kind of ID fraud he sees is students attempting to use someone else’s ID. Picture, expiration date and body language are all ways that Lopez said he identifies fraudulent IDs.

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Lopez said. “You can see the body language of a person when I check IDs, they get all nervous or seem intimidated.”

Lee said their fake was discovered through an impromptu quiz by an employee after purchasing beers with friends at Wrigley Field.

“This guy comes up to us and asks to see our IDs, then he looks up the address and he asks like what color is your house and how many stories is it,” Lee said. “Then someone gets it wrong and he’s like, ‘I’m assuming this is fake.’”

Though fake IDs vary in quality some can be incredibly hard to discern, even by those whose job it is to spot them. Jason said he once accidentally handed his fake ID to a TSA agent and the agent didn’t even notice that the ID wasn’t real. 

“She looked at it and I don’t know if she scanned it or whatnot, but she gave it back to me,” Jason said. “I was like, ‘all right, that just happened—and I’m not in trouble for it.’”

Lee has  organized a group fake ID order from an online service, students often coordinate bulk orders to cut down on costs. According to him, finding people who want fake IDs is not a challenge on campus. 

“Freshmen are easy targets because they’re most likely coming into college without a fake ID, it’s mostly just word of mouth,” Lee said. “I know some people whose fake expired or people who got theirs taken at a bar.”

When it comes to ordering fake IDs, Lee said numbers matter. The breakdown of the price of each ID will change depending on how many people join the order.

“One to four people, it’s like $80 bucks,” he said. “Four to six people is $65, six to eight people is $55 and 11 and over is $40 each.”

Lee admitted despite many students seeing purchasing fake IDs as no big deal, being in charge of a fake ID order can be nerve-wracking.

“I don’t want people to come after me if it gets taken by customs or the U.S. Postal Service and they are like, ‘I want my money back,’” Lee said. “It’s an uneasy feeling doing something illegal, obviously.”

In 202o, there was a decline in drug and alcohol offenses on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, previous years showed a significant uptick, The Phoenix reported. The 2019 annual security report showed a 47%  increase in liquor law violations by students on Lake Shore Campus, with a jump from 478 violations in 2018 to 705 in 2019.

Using fake IDs may be viewed as an acceptable crime for many students, but others don’t feel as comfortable with the idea.

Riley Tomes, a sophomore double-majoring in English and visual communications, expressed concerns about the safety of using a fake, particularly for women or others who may face harassment or assault while going out.

“There is a higher risk of something scary happening, and having a fake ID then adds a layer because it’s technically illegal,” Tomes, 19, said. “If something were to happen, it’s already scary to speak up about that, and even then it just gets even scarier.”

Other students abstain from buying a fake ID because they fear the legal implications of getting caught.

“I feel like if I were to have a fake ID it would only be a matter of time before I got caught,” David said. “It’s not worth it for me to jeopardize my education, my future job, things like that.” 

The Loyola Campus Safety website clearly states how the university views fake ID usage by students.

“In this world where terrorism is a threat in the back of every person’s head, the role of a fraudulent ID has taken on a bigger implication, more than just college aged people wanting access to alcohol,” the university’s website reads.

Featured image by Austin Hojdar | The Phoenix

Heather Higgins

Heather Higgins