University of Minnesota Police see surge in fake ID cases

Many students order their IDs online, which carries a heavier penalty if caught

Kristina Busch

While many underage students attempt to buy alcohol from liquor stores or bars using fake IDs every year, the University has seen a surge in the number of cases involving fake IDs.

Since the end of July, the University of Minnesota Police Department has investigated 17 fake ID cases. In 2014, it reported three cases and one in 2012. There were no UMPD reports of fake ID cases in 2015 or 2013.

University spokesman Steve Henneberry said UMPD is aware of this increase and is discussing how to address it.

University Student Legal Service Director Mark Karon said he and UMPD Lieutenant Chuck Miner were at a meeting when he heard Miner discuss finding a batch of fake IDs in a USPS shipment.

“With the use of computers,” he said, “people are more readily able to obtain or make [fake IDs] that look legitimate.”

Karon said law enforcement officials have worked to combat fake IDs by using machines that can more easily detect fakes.

Karon said using someone else’s ID is a misdemeanor punishable by 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, but using a fake ID is a gross misdemeanor, which could result in one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.

Nevertheless, first-time offenders, particularly students, often have to complete community service and a diversionary program through the Minneapolis City Attorney’s Office, Karon said.

Irv Hershkovitz, owner of Dinkytown Wine and Spirits, said he hasn’t noticed an increase in students with fake IDs, but he does confiscate a lot of fake IDs during the first week of classes.

Hershkovitz said he often finds students using their older siblings’ IDs to buy alcohol, but has seen students use fake IDs from overseas.

Henneberry said students accused of using fake IDs also go through the University’s Office for Student Conduct and Academic Integrity to discuss their case.

Hershkovitz said students are often able to avoid trouble because they quickly become aware of how strict the local liquor stores and bars are.

“If you go out to Minnetonka, they’re not as familiar with fake IDs as we are,” he said.

Hershkovitz said his liquor store uses an electronic ID machine to scan for fakes. Last year, his liquor store confiscated 600 fake IDs, which were turned over to the Minneapolis Police Department, he said.

Still, some students are unafraid of the consequences of using a fake ID.

Emily, a 19-year-old University design major, said she got a pair of fake IDs last year with a group of friends from the website IDGod.

“I think it’s dumb that we can’t drink if we want to go out,” she said.

After getting her first fake ID taken away at Blarney Pub and Grill in Dinkytown, she said she uses her remaining ID carefully.

“I’m pretty cautious about where I would choose to use it or who I would use it with,” she said, adding that she only uses it once or twice a month.

Claire, a 19-year-old history major, said she uses her ID about once or twice a week and doesn’t worry about getting in trouble for it.

“If you do get in trouble, they kind of just take it and don’t really do anything with it,” she said. “My main concern isn’t as much getting in trouble with the law as it is just getting it taken and having to shell out another 20 bucks to get another one.”

Kevin Beckman contributed to this report.

Editors’ note: The Minnesota Daily used first names for students interviewed in this story to protect their identities.