WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - A major development to report tonight on a story we first brought you in May.
The China-based website ID Chief, arguably the most popular fake ID mill among teenagers who want to buy alcohol illegally, has now been shut down.
Four United States Senators - Charles Grassley (R-Ia.), Tom Harkin (D-Ia.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) - sent this letter to the Chinese Ambassador asking that China take action against ID Chief and any other companies that produce fake IDs. Today, the website is out of business.
"Their federal police are notoriously hard-handed and wouldn't take lightly being internationally embarrassed by this letter," said Brian Zimmer of the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License.
Today, only a bizarre note remains posted on ID Chief's website, urging customers only to use their existing fake IDs "for buying beer in movies." The business goes on to explain it was only trying to help "poor students have some fun.")
"They were probably making in the range of 20-40 million dollars a year, so this is a big, big business," said Zimmer.
The wildly popular China-based ID Chief.ph has been producing fake IDs that are so sophisticated, they can pass through scanners designed to detect fraudulent cards and prevent minors from buying alcohol.
Zimmer said that "In several states, they found people 12 and 13 years old, inebriated, having been successful in using ID Chief products to buy liquor at liquor stores. One has to question the judgment of someone who takes an ID from someone who's so little he has to reach up to the counter to hand it off, but it happened."
Earlier this year, with the help of a Montgomery County Police intern, we purchased a fraudulent Pennsylvania driver's license from ID Chief for $200. Within weeks, it made the 8,000 mile journey from Gwangzhou, China to Gaithersburg, Maryland.
The IDs impressed police with their authenticity and came packaged in an envelope marked bracelet. Inside, a gift box and an actual red bracelet. But underneath the padding, wrapped in plain white paper, was a pair of fake IDs.
Not only was there Congressional concern about minors using these fake IDs to buy alcohol, there was fear that these IDs could get into the hands of domestic and international terrorists.