University of Maryland sophomore and Montgomery County resident Teddy Michaels was federally indicted last month for making fake IDs and selling them to his fellow students. The fact is, the vast majority of young adults between 18 and 21 drink alcohol. At that age, and really throughout all of adulthood, alcohol is everywhere. In my experience, getting a fake ID is critical for most kids under 21. I remember my own desire for one; friends who had one seemed to be blessed with some sort of golden ticket.
People who don’t have access to a decent counterfeit (like me a few years ago) often settle for the next best thing: the actual ID of a friend or relative who looks like them. That’s great if the person you find actually looks like you, but more often than not you are a peach-fuzzed baby face and that guy with the five o’clock shadow in the photograph looks like he just escaped from Guantanamo (and if you’re mistaken for THAT guy, your troubled cousin Alfred, you’ve got bigger problems on your hands). At the very least, if you try to pass one of those around, you are eventually going to be embarrassed by any bouncer or cashier with an ounce of common sense.
These problems keep quality fake IDs in high demand, which gives upstarts (opportunists) like Michaels the ability to drive up prices and make small fortunes. But people like Teddy Michaels are rare because it’s hard to acquire the equipment to manufacture convincing fake IDs. If you get one it is more likely to be printed on computer paper and laminated with an DIY laminating kit from Learning How than an elaborate copy like the ones Michaels produced. And when someone like Michaels does come around, the excitement around him is so great he draws a lot of attention not only from students, but also from authorities. Unfortunately, poor Teddy (a triple major in finance, accounting, and economics) should have known better than to merge the two things he was learning in school: business and partying.