With tampered copies of ID cards or IDs ordered online, adulthood is possible without aging. The number of ads for this kind of fraud among young people is increasing, but many are getting away unscathed.
Vienna – Katrin (15) is happy. She comes smiling with a card in her hand from a travel agency. From now on she can go to the disco with her friends and drink whatever she wants. Because she’s finally 18, if only on her new fake ID. In the travel agency, young people can become adults within five minutes, where they receive the so-called “Student Card” with the help of a copy of their passport or a student ID card.
As long as the student card is made of paper, it is easy to forge because the data is handwritten – the plastic cards make it much more difficult. Passport copying, on the other hand, is easier, only a little computer understanding is required. With programs like Paint or Photoshop, the digits of the date of birth are shifted easily to display older age.
Forgery of identity cards is an increasing trend among young people, and the number of reported offences has been rising consistently for years. In 2011, 58 juveniles were reported, in 2015 there were already 177, in 2017 359 juveniles were accused of the offence. However, most of them get away with it completely unscathed.
“Of course, it also happens that we send people away when we notice that something is wrong,” says the managing director of a travel agency in Vienna’s first district. However, the said persons would not be reported. Another option are websites where young people can apply for ID cards for around 30 euros without having to check the data provided. These Internet pages are legal, but if these ID cards contain false information, their use in legal transactions is punishable by law.
“The penalty is very small, however, because the offense is deceptive,” says Armin Halm, press officer of the Federal Criminal Police Office. The situation is different when documents are forged: Since one is not of criminal age up to the age of 14 years, there is no punishment. Only then can young people receive a fine or imprisonment of up to six months until they reach the age of majority.
Counterfeits are often very difficult to detect. Especially with ID cards ordered on the Internet, it is almost impossible to determine whether the information is true. But there are also ways to uncover fakes.
“If the font does not completely match the rest, you can become suspicious,” explains Christoph Seifert, expert in fraud and document forgery. “Forged plastic IDs can be identified by the fact that the plastic is easy to remove from the paper.”
Nightclub owners refer to the knowledge of their doorman. “My doorman knows all about it,” says the Viennese night club Empire owner upon request. There, as in other locations, the rules are clear: entry from 16, alcohol from 18.
“I just want to have fun and go out with my slightly older friends,” Anna (15) explains. When asked whether she always can enter night clubs, she replied: “It depends on the doorman. For some people, the passport copy – in my case a fake one – is not enough. Normally, however, there are no problems.” Like many others, she is unaware of the consequences. “I don’t worry so much about that,” she says.