MEMPHIS — Thousands of under-21-year-olds are not receiving their fraudulent drivers’ licenses, with no option for refunds or store credit. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBPOs) working at the port of Memphis have been seizing the counterfeit driver’s licenses daily. Sometimes the intercepted shipments contain one license, sometimes upwards of 20 or more. Most of the birth years on the licenses are 1999 or 2000, indicating the holder of the license is 21 years old or more, the legal drinking age nationwide. While the licenses can be recognized as fraudulent by our experienced CBPOs, what truly marks them as fake is that they are en route to various locations around the U.S. from southern China, where the counterfeit COVID vaccination cards also originated. Only state motor vehicle departments issue drivers’ licenses, and never as two copies. Yesterday’s licenses were for two 21-year-old Missouri females, with a delivery address in Iowa. A much larger January 16 shipment of 296 licenses representing a dozen states was seized en route to Illinois from China. When purchased for only one individual, the price can be $100. However, they are cheaper by the dozen.
In Fiscal Year 2021, CBP Memphis seized 3,487 counterfeit licenses, while from October 1, 2021 to January 21, 2022 we have already seized 4,516. CBPOs coordinate findings with CBP’s Fraudulent Document Analysis Unit, Homeland Security Investigations, and other federal partners to combat this illicit activity.
Basic internet searches of the names and addresses on some of the packages confirm university students: George Mason, CalTech, Auburn, Post University, LSU and Tulane, to name a few. However, there is a darker side. While purchasing a counterfeit driver's license has historically been to illegally purchase alcohol (especially since the Minimum Legal Drinking Age was nationally set at 21), there are more nefarious reasons: individuals masking illegal residence in the country, identity theft and benefit fraud.
“What these youngsters don’t realize is that they are contributing to a global criminal enterprise,” said Michael Neipert, Memphis Area Port Director. “They are funding the growth of a false identity industry, which breeds more lawlessness. They want to drink a couple years earlier then they’re allowed to, but they may not know their fellow customers are criminals, scammers and those who want to mask their identity for some reason, which is never good. My officers will continue to seize these, and our law enforcement partners will continue to investigate and hit the direct buyers and mid-level distributors.”
It is very dangerous to provide via the internet your real name and address, along with payment, to counterfeiters in China. We cannot stress this enough. At the very least you are sending your money into an abyss with no guarantee of receiving a (counterfeit and illegal) product.
CBP routinely conducts inspection operations on arriving and departing international flights and intercepts narcotics, weapons, currency, prohibited agriculture products, counterfeit goods, and other contraband at our nation’s 328 international ports of entry, 365 days a year.