GVPD, Ottawa County form fake ID task force

GVL Photo Illustration / Dylan Graham

Student presents fake ID.

Dylan Graham

GVL Photo Illustration / Dylan Graham Student presents fake ID.

Chelsea Lane

The Grand Valley Police Department and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department have formed a joint task force to track down an increasing number of fake IDs in the area surrounding Grand Valley State University.

The task force was formed approximately two weeks ago, when GVPD was contacted by several area businesses regarding students in possession of suspected fake IDs. The individuals in possession of the IDs confirmed to police that the IDs were fraudulent.

GVPD Officer Betsy Wenk said she has interviewed approximately 10 people in regards to the investigation, which has already unearthed numerous fake IDs. Wenk said the task force’s initial goal was identifying where the IDs were obtained, as well as where and why they were used. Police now believe many of the recovered IDs share a common origin.

“Most will say it’s very common for all their friends to have it, not only here but other campuses,” Wenk said. “There’s two different avenues (to obtain one). One (student) sent me instructions on how to obtain one via e-mail. They’re spending on average about $100.”

The IDs currently under investigation by GVPD and OCSO were manufactured in Asia and Canada. Customers can submit their name, signature, picture and information to the manufacturer and then receive their ID in the mail. The cards can be made to resemble IDs from multiple states and Canadian provinces.

However, Wenk said while these particular fake IDs do bare a close resemblance to legitimate ones, the IDs “really are a waste of money now,” as both local businesses and local law enforcement have successfully identified several of these IDs as fakes.

Capt. Brandon DeHaan, assistant director of the Department of Public Safety, added that the investigation into these particular IDs will continue as long as GVPD and OCSO recover them in the area.

“This isn’t going away,” he said. “This is on our radar now. Even next fall, staff will be very cognizant of this… Although they are very well manufactured, there are certain security features that indicate these to be fraudulent.”

DeHaan declined to elaborate on the specific features that law enforcement looks for when determining an ID’s authenticity but said GVPD and OCSO are well-educated on spotting these fraudulent IDs. Students found to be in possession of fraudulent IDs will have the IDs confiscated by law enforcement and potentially face both criminal charges and academic judiciary discipline.

In addition to using fake IDs to illegally purchase alcohol or gain access to establishments serving alcohol, it is also against the law to operate a motor vehicle while in possession of a fake ID. While an MIP is a 90-day misdemeanor in the state of Michigan, producing a fraudulent ID is a 93-day misdemeanor and includes the possibility of jail time.

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