Joel Mowbray

With the uproar over drivers licenses being issued to illegal aliens in states like California, an even-bigger security threat has been overlooked: drivers licenses being issued to people with obviously fake documentation. 

  Agents from the General Accounting Office—the investigative arm of Congress—were able to obtain real licenses in seven states and the District of Columbia using bogus Social Security numbers and forged birth certificates and drivers licenses.  Making matters worse, investigators intentionally used the kinds of fake documents normal cheats might use, avoiding any high-tech gimmickry.

  Although some states required more than one try to get a license, each state tested by investigators—Virginia, Maryland, California, South Carolina, Arizona, Michigan, New York, and Washington, D.C.—ultimately issued licenses to the GAO agents, with three tries being the maximum number of attempts needed.

  In Maryland, the undercover agents were at first turned away because of the poor quality of the fake birth certificate, which had no state or county seal and was clearly not the usual texture of such documents.  The second trip would have been enough, but investigators were informed that they needed proof of residency.  They returned a few days later with a utility bill—and the agent received the license.

  Duping DMVs got easier from there.

  Just across the border in Virginia, the first attempt to get a license was stymied because an alert employee noticed that the sham birth certificate and the dummy Social Security card had different dates of birth.  Less than a week later, with the “error” fixed, the agent went to a different DMV office—and got a license.

  On the other side of the country, though, is where investigators uncovered the most astounding shortcomings.  GAO investigators were able to obtain three temporary licenses in two days—all using the same exact paperwork.  One license was issued to someone who had a different person take his eye exam—in plain view of the DMV staff.

  With a drivers license, someone can create a whole new life—renting an apartment, ordering utilities and phone service, obtaining credit cards, etc.—all under an assumed name.  And all someone needs to do to get started is to make a trip to the parking lot of a local 7/11 convenience store and purchase phony documents at a cheap price.

Joel Mowbray

Joel Mowbray, who got his start with, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.

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