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This item originally appeared in the October 21, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.

By ERIN BASS

Staff Writer

Eighteen-year-olds can turn 21 with the double-click of a mouse.

Because of that area establishments have seen a large increase in the use of false identification recently.

Anyone with a computer and a laminating machine can make a passable government-issued identification card, Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone said.

"We collect anywhere from 150-250 fake IDs a month," Larry Rabb, owner of Rabb's Steak and Spirits, said. "I wait until the end of each month and turn them into the Alcoholic Beverage Control Center in Shreveport."

Rabb said the biggest problem with fake IDs is people under 21 trying to buy alcohol.

According to Louisiana Revised Statute 14:333, it is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 to present photostatic evidence of age and identity which is false, fraudulent or not actually his own, for the purpose of obtaining or purchasing alcoholic beverages or attempting to enter licensed premises.

Whoever violates these provisions shall be punishable by one or more of the following: a fine of not more than $200, an appropriate amount of community service not to exceed 30 hours and suspension of the violator's driver's license for 90 days, according to the Louisiana Revised Statutes.

"We are asking [alcohol distributors] to be more cautious and up to speed with the present problem at hand," Stone said.

Although Rabb has been the only one to turn fake IDs in, he is not necessarily the only one having a problem, Stone said.

Jimmy Wood, owner of The Que Stick, said before starting renovation he had Grambling police officers monitor the entry and also write tickets for anyone who held a fake ID.

At the Oct. 7 Cross Canadian Ragweed concert, Rabb said Grambling Police wrote nine people summonses to court, and one person was arrested for the possession of a fake ID.

Rabb said he is working with three district attorneys to begin charging the maximum penalty if the problem persists.

Fifteen thousand dollars and 15 years in prison is the maximum penalty, but Rabb said they would negotiate with the offender if he or she would tell them where the ID was obtained.

"It's too risky these days to be lenient on a subject that could be misused by the wrong people," Rabb said. "Sometimes I get fake Canadian, English and Mexican IDs; I even have come upon fake green cards."

Due to the terrorism threat the country is facing, Rabb said it is scary that any type of identity can be acquired so easily.

Supervisory Special Agent William Hatcher of the FBI in New Orleans said given the digital nature of today it has become a lot easier to obtain a false identity.

"We have been addressing the problem more aggressively since 9/11," Hatcher said. "There are 50 stationed agents in 50 different countries that have made relationships with local authorities."

Hatcher said the combined team of FBI agents, local authorities and concerned citizens are what makes getting rid of the problem a whole lot easier.

"Most of the time we don't have to look up or research where the false identity providers and thieves are," Hatcher said. "We get referrals and complaints from the general public that is alarmed."

Rabb said he had a scanner that scanned IDs and would tell if the card was registered with the state's department of motor vehicles.

"It used to work, but now advanced technology allows false ID distributors to code the magnetic strip that will go through the scanner non-detected," Rabb said.

Rabb said he now relies on his two door women, who have three years experience, to spot fake IDs.


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