CBP seized nearly 20K fake IDs in the first six months of 2020 – and that’s just Chicago alone


CHICAGO, IL – During the first six months of 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers reportedly seized nearly 20,000 counterfeit U.S. driver’s licenses while working at Chicago’s O’Hare airport alone.

The solitary location where CBP officers were stationed were said to have intercepted 19,888 phony licenses and other documents used to verify one’s identity via 1,513 shipments that mostly originated from China and Hong Kong.

Some of the other shipments containing counterfeit identifications were said to have stemmed form South Korea and Britain.

CBP’s acting area port director in Chicago, Ralph Piccirilli, noted that the counterfeits seized by officers happened to be very realistic. In a released statement, Piccirilli explained the ramifications of when these types of documents enter the country and fall into the wrong hands:

“These counterfeit driver’s licenses can lead to disastrous consequences. Criminal organizations use these counterfeit IDs to avoid attracting attention to their illegal activities.”

Most of the fake IDs were produced to represent someone as being in their 20’s, which could also potentially point toward utilizing these counterfeits to obtain age-restricted goods like alcohol or tobacco products.

But the other threats of counterfeit driver’s licenses can pose much more risk than underage imbibing, according to the CBP press release:

“Fraudulent identity documents can lead to identity theft, worksite enforcement, critical infrastructure protection, fraud linked to immigration-related crimes such as human smuggling and human trafficking, and…be used by those individuals associated with terrorism.”

Counterfeit driver’s licenses hasn’t only been exclusive to Chicago’s O’Hare airport either – just look at the seizure we reported on back in March at Law Enforcement Today. 

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CBP agents managed to intercept nearly 2,000 fake IDs during the week of March 23rd in Memphis, Tennessee.

While folks may think this only prevented numerous youngsters for buying a six-pack of beer, CBP officials say false documents present more trouble than just underage drinking.

CBP officers assigned to the Area Port of Memphis got their hands on approximately 2,000 phony driver’s licenses as well as two fake passports from what was described as a express consignment facility.

Officials stated that these faux IDs had made their way over from China and were likely headed to numerous destinations throughout the United States.

Several of the seized documents were smuggled via containers that were made to look as though they only carried tassels crafted into Chinese knots.

The Fraudulent Document Analysis Unit of the CBP determined that the IDs were all fake after the agents handed them off to them for review. From here, Homeland Security Investigations is going to be working the discovered contraband case.

The agency noted that these types of documents often garner anywhere from $250-$500 a piece on the black market.

Yes, these may be used by underage students in order to purchase items like booze or tobacco products, but CBP Area Port of Memphis Director Michael Neipert said it goes deeper than just some beers:

“Fraudulent IDs can also be associated with identity theft and terrorist activity. With all the uncertainty currently facing our nation, it is inherent that CBP Memphis Officers/Agriculture specialists remain steadfast in securing the nation’s borders.”

And just months prior to that, CBP officers in Lousiville Kentucky also intercepted thousands of fake IDs – once again from China. 

According to the media release by the CBP on November 25th, 2019, the following was seized at the Express Consignment Operations hub in Louisville: 

“Six shipments containing 2,909 counterfeit driver’s licenses and 3,123 blank card stocks to make counterfeit driver’s licenses.”

Apparently all of those licenses were destined to New York, but carried phony licenses depicting that the bearers were from places like Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri and all sorts of other coastal states. 

Oh, and one of those IDs seized in that bust was destined to a convicted child rapist in New York. 

Thank goodness we have the CBP to keep these documents from flooding the country. 

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