Forged licenses & ID's a problem in Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Forged licenses & ID's a problem in Georgia

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 By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A south Georgia forger may be pumping out fake drivers licenses with a machine stolen from a state drivers services center.

That machine was swiped in north Georgia.

Investigators worry it's being put to use in our area. They say fake and forged IDs are a huge problem here. Now the state is fighting back with a newly designed license.

The look of your Georgia Driver's License will change dramatically this fall. Starting in September the new license will be more difficult to counterfeit, with laser engraved signatures and machine readable barcodes. Law enforcement says it could put an end to counterfeits that can cost a community big money.

Clerks at the Warehouse Package Store check a lot driver's licenses and ID's and they've seen their fair share of fakes.

"The hologram may be missing or the backside may not contain all the information that a normal ID might carry," said Louis Bernard, of the Warehouse Package Store.

Dougherty County Sheriff's Investigators say the number of forged or fake ID's they're seeing in traffic stops or search warrants have jumped dramatically along with the number of illegal immigrants looking for legal ID's.

"Not just hispanics, but in the Indian community and the Pakistani community, we've had a lot of illegal driver's licenses and ID's show up," said Captain Craig Dodd, Dougherty County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators blame the increase on a machine stolen from a north Georgia Driver's Center that may be here in south Georgia making licenses that look like the real thing.

"The number's don't jive with the state computers when you run them. It will show driver's license does not exist or that number does not exist," said Dodd.

The problem is ultimately greater than just a fake ID's to get alcohol. Last year a group came through south Georgia cities, using fake driver's licenses with local addresses and forged government checks and cashed them at local businesses, at a cost to the community.

"Who ever it is that cashes that check is out the money, so they basically they come in and in an afternoon they'll milk $48,000, $58,000 out of a local community just like that," said Dodd.

Law enforcement says it's important that everyone in law enforcement from investigators with the Sheriff's office to the DNR gets a good education on what to look for with the new driver's licenses, so forgeries can be easily spotted.

New card production will begin in just a few offices in September with all center producing the new licenses by November. Licenses and ID's will remain valid until their expiration date when they'll be exchanged for the newly-designed card.

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