ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Sixteen University of Georgia students and four students from other schools who are accused of manufacturing and distributing fake IDs have been indicted by a Clarke County grand jury.
The ring was led by two roommates who provided door-to-door services, the Athens Banner-Herald (http://bit.ly/13z1yQU) reported Thursday.
Campus couriers were used to take customers’ photos in their dorm rooms, collect personal information for the IDs and deliver the finished products for between $50 and $100, investigators said.
Customers told police that a courier visited their dorm rooms, used a cellphone to take their photo and sent the photos along with a text message containing their personal information back to the manufacturers.
The investigation into the counterfeit ID ring began in August 2011 and involved the University of Georgia police department and the Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office, authorities said. The probe into the distribution ring spanned Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Michigan, and more than 400 fake driver’s licenses have been confiscated, police said.
The students may have distributed more than 2,000 fake IDs total, UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson told the newspaper.
“This case was overwhelming,” Williamson said. “It was simplified for the court system to get things moving.”
The ringleaders of the distribution operation have been charged with manufacturing and distributing false identification documents, and manufacturing and distributing false identification documents containing unauthorized government seals.
Authorities said the other 18 co-defendants are charged with varying counts of distributing fraudulent documents.
Police said they executed at least 20 search warrants and seized computers, laminating devices, email account records and the contents of bank safe deposit boxes.
The counterfeiting operation came to light because of a conflict between a student and her roommate, who was employed as a courier by the ringleaders. The student informed a resident assistant, who later told police.