Where is all of the Media on this story? “Whatever Happen To
It’s a passport to trouble — and it can be bought for just
$260 on the streets of Jackson Heights, Queens.
In just one hour, The Post was able to buy a phony green
card, Social Security card and New York state driver’s license from a stranger
on a corner — all of which could serve as a gateway to obtain legitimate IDs.
The cards are frighteningly real — convincing enough to fool
creditors, potential employers and security at buildings and even the airport.
Experts said the biggest fear is that these IDs are being
bought by people who slipped past border crossings.
THREE OF A KIND: The
Post’s Candice Giove bought a driver’s license, Social Security card and green
card, all for $260.
“You get that
legitimate ID, and this one goes away,” said John Cutter, retired NYPD deputy
chief of the Intelligence Division, as he tossed the fake Social Security card
in the air.
STATE SEN. WANTS FAKE-ID PEDDLERS TO GET JAIL TIME
“The next thing you know, you’re legit even though you never
came across the border legally, nobody really knows who you are, you’ve never
paid taxes, but now you’re a legitimate citizen, and now you start your
“That’s the scary part, because, let’s face it, people
working in government agencies aren’t always cognizant of the security risks of
these things,” said Cutter, who runs a private security company.
On Roosevelt Avenue, known to investigators as the “East
Coast epicenter” for fake IDs, officials believe 10 mills operate between 103rd
and 76th streets.
In 2007, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown netted one
of the gang-related groups. It was raking in more than $1 million annually
selling the bogus cards on the streets. Investigators found that while most of
the ring’s buyers were illegal immigrants, a handful were criminals involved in
Five years later, the illegal industry continues to thrive
and sellers on the street avoid the watchful eyes of patrol cops and
Midday on Roosevelt and Forley Street, I asked a man in a
leather jacket leaning against a shuttered electronics-store gate if he knew
where I could get an ID.
He was the first person I approached, and I was already in
“You need an ID? What kind?” he asked.
“A green card.”
It was that easy.
happened off the main strip, near private homes.
He offered a package deal: green and Social Security cards
for $160. A driver’s license from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut would run
another $130, he said. I haggled him down to $260 from $290.
He said to meet in an
hour, half-way down a different residential street.
“It’s good for you.
It’s good for me,” he said. “Too many cops.”
Next, he took me to a
discount cellphone shop that printed ID pictures. I paid $6 for two passport-size
The stranger handed
me a tiny manila envelope and told me to write out my name, birth date, country
of origin and address.
“Use a fake one if you want.”
I decided to be
He programmed my
digits into his phone and called me on the spot. “Candice,” he said.
“Well, what’s your
“Charlie,” he said.
“Could you leave me 20 bucks?”
Charlie picked out a
cafe for me to pass the time in until he returned, and when I told him I was
headed to a coffee joint on 88th Street instead, he forbade it because of the
“Do not go there,” he
said emphatically. “Too hot. Go to 82nd Street.”
I did not look back
at Charlie, fearing he’d think I was a cop. He was about to pass my manila
envelope to a runner who would deliver it to a hidden ID forgery mill.
An hour later, Charlie called and ordered me to rendezvous
on Forley instead, again with a warning about cops.
He arrived with a bearded friend he called “Angel.” They did
not have my ID.
We chatted while we waited. The men, both from Mexico, said
they were roommates who split a nearby studio.
Suddenly, a man in a blue jacket briskly walking across the
street tucked a tiny manila envelope under a blue minivan’s windshield wiper.
Charlie crossed and grabbed it.
“It’s here,” he said.
The two walked me to a set of secluded steps.
“This is your resident card,” Charlie said. “Look at it.”
He slipped it into my open purse. It was an older version of
the green card. A tiny hologram of my face was on the back.
He handed me the other cards. I palmed the money and shook
“Listen, you have
friends who need ID, you send them to me. You got my number,” he said.