Back in the day, the only way for somebody under 21 to get a drink was to borrow or steal an older sibling's or friend's license and hope the doorman or waitress didn't look too closely.
These days, they have another option: Find a site like Really Good Fakes or Florida Fakes, upload their photo and personal info and key in their credit-card info for the $150 purchase (less if they buy a bunch). In a week or so, they get back a realistic looking driver's license got enough to fool a busy doorman - even one with a scanner designed to catch a fake.
Local bars and police say they're involved in a never ending arm's race with the area's smart students and companies, some based in China, that try to outsmart whatever technology the bars adapt - from black-light wands to computerized scanners that constantly download the latest data on fake IDs.
Well, except experienced cops can still suss out many of the fakes, and some of the students turn out to be pretty dumb.
Yesterday, the Estate, 1 Boylston Pl., had to explain to the Boston Licensing Board why it shouldn't be punished for the three under-aged drinkers Boston Police detectives found in an unannounced inspection on Jan. 24.
Detectives William Gallaghar and Robert Mulvey said that when they entered, they immediately noticed three young looking patrons, one holding a Corona, another ordering a Corona and a third getting a vodka and ginger ale. One turned out to be 20, another 19, and the third 18, they said.
Two were done in by the one thing the fakes still don't have down quite right, they said: The lamination. For $150, you're just not going to get the same caliber lamination you'd get on a real license in many states, including Massachusetts. Bend the license a bit and on a fake, the lamination will separate from the paper inside it and create a bubble or get wrinkly.
The third was done in by simple police work: Mulvey asked her for the Zip code on the supposed Connecticut license, and she couldn't recite it correctly.
Gallager used the same trick in November to out an 18-year-old caught drinking in a Dorchester bar - when asked for the Zip code on her New York license, she said "02127," which is South Boston's.
Mulvey said he's yet to run across a fake Massachusetts license. But that might not be because the RMV is better at producing fake-resistant licenses, but because the kids who buy fakes tend to prefer out-of-state ones, on the theory that if they do get questioned, a doorman or cop will simply be less familiar with an out-of-state license and maybe let them go. In fact, it's part of the advice Really Good Fakes gives its visitors:
Our fakes replicate the actual ID about 80-90% spot on, and could most likely pass in state. Although this is never recommended to purchase a Fake ID as the same state you live in!
The site offers helpful hints on using your fake ID, including:
Some people ask us, "are you sure this is how it is suppose too feel and look?" Yes, we are 100% certain, we have perfected our fakes. Have faith in your ID. If you look scared when using it, people can sense fear. Especially bouncers, that is their job. Practice using it at small places that don't care, gas stations, restaurants, get use to building your confidence up, so you don't get it taken from you at the first 21+ club you go to because you're shaking in your boots!
It also urges customers to buy extra copies, just in case:
If your ID is taken within 14 days, we will offer you our special reprint price of $75. If it's taken after 14 days, unfortunately, you will have to pay the full price. Which is why we strongly recommend getting at least 1 backup copy since it only cost $50 at time of print!
Mulvey said one of the three people they nabbed at the Estate knew right away the jig was up - because the detectives recognized him from when he got caught doing the same thing a year earlier at another bar.
The board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take. Estate attorney Dennis Quilty pleaded for leniency, noting the increasing sophistication of the fake licenses: "I don't know how [bars] can keep up with this technology; it's amazing."