The use of false identification documents can result in serious charges with heavy penalties. Fake IDs are often used by minors, under the age of 18, to purchase alcohol or obtain entry into an alcohol-licensed premises. Authorities have also been presented with a number of fake driver’s licences from drivers on Australian roads.
FAKE IDS ONLINE
It is alarming how easy it is to obtain a fake ID online. With a simple search, fake IDs can be purchased in Australia for as little as $60. Over the years, numerous platforms have been brought to the attention of authorities. One of the more known websites is Fakies.com.au which operates from Victoria. In 2013, Victorian Police investigations led to the website being ‘shut down’. However, in 2016, the website re-surfaced and used Facebook advertising to promote its ‘novelty fake IDs’. Detective Superintendent Colin Dyson, the former Commander of NSW Police Fraud and Cybercrime Squad, states that:
“The legality or otherwise of making, possessing and using these fake identification instruments is very much dependent on the intention of the maker and user.”
Whilst the fake IDs produced by Fakies.com.au are largely similar to legitimate ID cards, they do not contain exact features. Therefore, the website’s production of fake IDs is not a criminal offence unless consumers use the cards as a legitimate form of ID.
PENALTIES FOR USING A FAKE ID
Buying Alcohol With A Fake ID
With reference to section 129 of the Liquor Act 2007 (NSW), it is a criminal offence for minors, under the age of 18, to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol. This also applies to minors who use false forms of identification to gain entry into alcohol-licensed premises, including clubs or pubs. The maximum penalty for committing this offence in NSW is a $2,200 fine.
It is also important to note section 128. If an authorised person suspects that someone is a minor, they may ask for further details to confirm their identity. Authorised persons include a licensee, inspector or police officer. If a person is asked to provide identity information, it is a criminal offence if that person chooses to:
(a) refuse or fail to state his or her full name, residential address and date of birth; or
(b) without reasonable excuse, refuse or fail to produce an evidence of age document that may reasonably be accepted as applying to the person.
The maximum penalty for not complying with section 128 is a $2,200 fine.
Driving With A Fake ID
It is also a criminal offence to use a fake ID as a substitute for a legitimate driving licence in order to drive on NSW roads. Pursuant to section 51 of the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW), a person cannot alter a driver licence, or present an altered driver licence, with the intention to deceive. If a person is found guilty of either offence, the maximum penalty is a $2,200 fine. Section 51(3) also states that a person must not:
(a) forge a driver licence; or
(b) fraudulently alter or use a driver licence; or
(c) fraudulently lend, or allow another person to use, a driver licence.
Numerous cases have highlighted the consequences of using a fake driver’s licence on the road. In August 2017, 26-year-old Ali Haidari had his Australian citizenship revoked after it was found that he used a fake driver’s licence from overseas to obtain a legitimate Australian licence. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal held that Mr. Haidari had “knowingly and deliberately” given a fake licence and;
“by his deceit, [he] has recklessly presented a danger to other road users, and himself”.
An international student named Mohammad Usman was also charged in Victoria after possessing and presenting a fake driver’s licence to police. After being pulled over for speeding, police asked Mr. Usman for his licence and questioned his date of birth. Mr. Usman provided a driver’s licence with a different name and could not recall his date of birth. The international student pleaded guilty and the Court fined him a total of $1,300 and suspended his licence for six months. The Court stated that:
“This is a serious thing to be doing to be deceiving police the way you have, and to be driving the way you did”.
SERIOUS IDENTITY OFFENCES
Fake IDs can also be used to commit more serious crimes involving fraud and identity theft. Part 4AB of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) establishes that it is a criminal offence to deal and/or possess identification information with the intention of committing, or assisting with, an indictable offence. Maximum penalties associated with these crimes are 2 years imprisonment (if heard in the Local Court) and up to 10 years imprisonment (if heard in the District Court).
If you have been charged with using a fake ID or dealing/possessing identification information to commit an offence, it is important that you are aware of your legal options. To speak with our experienced team, click here to contact National Criminal Lawyers®. We look forward to speaking with you.