Assessing the Worth of Fake IDs: Analyzing Risks and Costs

Located just off the Ryerson University campus on Yonge Street, 20-year-old Denis* points out a small convenience store where he purchased his first fake ID. This store is one of many in the area that sells fake IDs, with prices typically ranging from $60 to $200 depending on the vendor. Some places advertise this service more openly than others, with some discreetly advertising “novelty cards” or “fake IDs” while others boldly proclaim “best price in town” for fakes. For many young adults like Denis, a fake ID offers the freedom to go out to bars and clubs before they reach the legal drinking age. However, the risks and costs associated with using a fake ID may outweigh the benefits. Denis paid $60 for his fake ID and only used it five times, with it only successfully working once. While he was able to enter one establishment, he notes that the staff barely glanced at his ID and likely would have let him in regardless.

Many university students like Denis are tempted to purchase a fake ID in order to gain access to bars and clubs before reaching the legal drinking age. The cost of a fake ID usually ranges from $60 to $100 depending on where it is purchased. Some vendors advertise this service with small, discreet signs promoting “novelty cards” or “fake IDs.” Others are more brazen, like the multiple bright yellow signs across from Ryerson’s Student Learning Centre advertising fakes with the “best price in town.” To young adults eager to experience the nightlife with their peers, these signs represent the gateway to a new world of fun and excitement. However, the risks and costs associated with using a fake ID are significant and should be carefully considered before making a purchase.

scannable card at idpapa

Fogell showed his fake McLovin ID to Seth and Evan in “Superbad,” a Columbia Pictures film starring Melissa Moseley.

Underage drinking has long been a rite of passage for Canadian youth. Despite having a lower legal drinking age than our American neighbors, Canadian teens and young adults still feel the allure of getting a fake ID. According to statistics from Teen Challenge Canada, 83 percent of Grade 12 students in Ontario have admitted to consuming alcohol. Based on responses from Grade 11 students who drink in Ontario, the average age of first exposure to alcohol was 13 years old, while the average age for their first experience of being drunk was 14. With so many underage drinkers, I sought to explore how students obtain fake IDs and whether it’s worth the potential consequences.

Curiosity got the best of me, so I decided to follow the bright yellow signs on Ryerson’s campus advertising fake IDs. As someone who is over 19 and has never had a fake ID, I wanted to see for myself how easy it is to obtain one. I stumbled upon a small trailer located across from the SLC, where two men were eager to create an ID for me. The trailer resembled more of a hut, with a desk and a small blue square on the wall that served as the background for people’s pictures. I had to fill out an information form that asked for my name, date of birth, eye and hair color, and other details. The first name that came to mind was Ashley Shank, mainly because she is my best  friend in my childhood, so I used that as my fake name and claimed to be born in 2000.

Saskatchewan IDs have a higher success rate?

After filling out the information form, they told me to stand in front of the blue square, which was conveniently placed near the tiny window providing some natural light to the pitch-black room. While taking my picture with an old Nikon camera, they made comments like, “You’re going to break some boy’s hearts tonight,” to which I forced a smile and nodded, trying not to show my disgust. Then, I had to choose a fake hometown for Regina Phalangee. I had a list of around 10 places to choose from, including 724ID, Manitoba Fake IDs, and 724ID. However, they recommended that I get one from Saskatchewan because apparently, those have a higher success rate, although they did not explain why. The whole process took only five minutes, but they informed me that I needed to wait almost two hours to get my card and would have to pay $150 in cash upon receiving it. Obviously, they wouldn’t take a credit card at a fake ID shop. Just for the record, I didn’t actually get the card because I’m of age and only went for the experience, but to be honest, I felt pretty creeped out by all the weird comments from the owners.

Alex Thompson, a 20-year-old third-year law and business student at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management, has been working as a bartender and server for almost three years. They obtained their Smart Serve certification at the age of 18, which allowed them to serve and distribute alcohol after checking IDs, even though they were not yet legally permitted to consume it.

Alex typically adheres to the rule that if someone appears 30 or younger, he asks for identification. Even though he himself was not yet of legal drinking age, he found it both fun and a little strange to have to ID people who were clearly older than her. “You never really know, some people can look older than they are and some people can look younger—it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” says Alex. In his experience, people with foreign IDs are more likely to be questioned about their identification, as many fake IDs come from different provinces and states. He recommends that everyone, especially those with foreign IDs, carry at least two forms of identification in case they are questioned. The minimum penalty for serving or providing alcohol to minors is a $500 fine.

As a server, Alex has occasionally encountered people trying to use fakes in order to buy alcohol. Alex says that people often use their real IDs, but scratch out the number that their birth year ends in, to make it look like they are older. However, during her smart serve certification training, she learned that most driver’s licenses have holographic images that have the person’s real birthdate. Another thing that most bartenders and servers are required to know is how various IDs are supposed to look like from different provinces, since the majority of fakes are from provinces outside of Ontario.

Feeling Left Out: Unable to Join Friends Going Out

Alex has tricks for verifying the legitimacy of real identification cards used by older friends or siblings. He recommends asking the person to do their signature the same way that it appears on the license. This is because people who use fake IDs often memorize the information but neglect to memorize the signature.   Alex, who used to use a friend’s ID, advises servers and bartenders to be vigilant and to check everything carefully, as some people may try to take advantage of their position.

Alex Thompson had a firsthand experience of the importance of matching the signature on an ID card with the one done in front of the bartender. One night during her first year, his friend was denied entry into a club because she couldn’t replicate the signature on the real ID he bought from someone who resembled her. Thompson took this lesson to heart and practiced copying the exact signature on her own fake ID, treating it like a serious job. Her effort paid off when she managed to pass through two security guards and a bartender at a 19 plus concert using her fake ID, until a skeptical guard questioned his about its authenticity. Despite the guard’s interrogation about the information on the ID card, Thompson was prepared with all the memorized details. The guard ultimately resorted to asking her to recreate his signature on a piece of paper to prove it was genuine.

Thompson laughed as he recounted his experience: “I nailed the signature perfectly, it was spot-on. They saw that it was identical to the one on the card, so they had nothing else to say and let me through.”

Denis acquired his first fake ID from a small convenience store located at Yonge and Gerrard streets in the summer before beginning university, while he was still 17 years old. He decided to follow his friends’ lead and obtain one for himself, believing it would come in handy since his birthday falls later in the year. As a typical first-year student, Denis was excited to experience the newfound freedom of being away from home and didn’t want his age to hold him back.

Denis found the process of obtaining a fake ID quick and painless. “You just go to the back, fill out some information. I think I made up a fake name and fake location, and then they just took my picture and that was it,” he recalls. “I paid $60 and had my ID.” He had the option of choosing from IDs of different U.S. states, but decided to get one from Vancouver.

Looking back on it, Denis realizes that buying a fake ID was a “poor investment” and “a complete waste of money” as he didn’t get much use out of it during his night outs. “The amount of money I spent compared to the benefits I got – it just wasn’t worth it,” Denis admits. Eventually, he gave up using his fake ID and instead started using his older brother’s real ID, which proved to be much more effective due to their striking resemblance. Denis was able to gain entry into clubs and bars with ease using his brother’s ID.

scannable fake ids at idpapa

Fake IDs Checking By Bouncers in bar

The Importance of a Social Life in University: Clubbing and Drinking

Denis learned from his experience that using a real ID that looks like him is a more effective way to gain entry to bars and clubs than a fake ID. He advises others to do the same and save the money they would have spent on a fake ID. He also thinks that the businesses that create false identification documents are taking advantage of young people by charging high prices for ID cards that are often ineffective. In his opinion, using a real ID is a more practical and reliable option, especially if one has a friend or sibling who looks similar. While he no longer needs a fake ID, he hopes that his experience can help others avoid making the same mistake.

Denis also says that the fact that Ontario’s legal drinking age is 19 also does not help, because while a lot people drink in high school, many are especially more tempted to do so as a university student. “I think that’s crazy—when you’re 16 you can operate a vehicle, when you’re 18 you can serve in the army but you have to be 19 to drink? I don’t see the logic in that,” says Denis. “It’s part of your university experience, aside from getting a good education is having a good social life, and oftentimes entering clubs or drinking is part of that. To tell someone they can’t enter a club or drink, people are going to try to overcome that.”

Alex Cohen, a second-year creative industries student, shares her negative experience with using a fake ID while sitting in the lobby of the Rogers Communications Centre. Even though she was legally allowed to drink as of October 2017, she used her older sister’s expired driver’s license before that and attempted to pass it off as her own ID multiple times. However, even with a real ID, she faced challenges getting into clubs and bars as the ID did not match her appearance.

Alex Cohen, a second-year creative industries student, shared her negative experiences with using a fake ID while sitting in the lobby of the Rogers Communications Centre. Before reaching the legal drinking age of 19 in October 2017, she attempted to use her older sister’s expired driver’s license to gain entry into clubs and bars. Despite looking very similar to her sister, Alex was still unable to pass off the ID as her own, highlighting that even using a real ID that belongs to someone else is not a guaranteed successful strategy.

Alex Cohen first used her sister’s ID during the summer before starting university, when she was still underage at 17 years old. However, despite her attempts to use it until she reached the legal drinking age of 19 in her second year, it was never accepted by any establishments in Toronto. The only time she was successful in using it was during her travels in Italy, where drinking below the legal age is often tolerated if accompanied by an adult or in the context of a meal.

At the start of her first year, Alex was only 17, while many of her peers were already 19 due to gap years after high school. She felt left out when they went out drinking, and being a commuter student with a long commute to Thornhill, Ontario, she worried she would miss out on nightlife. Fortunately, she made friends with many students who lived on campus and was able to crash at their place whenever she went out late.

The first time Alex attempted to use her sister’s ID was at Grace O’Malley’s Pub during her first year. However, she made the mistake of not familiarizing herself with the information on the card before presenting it to the bouncer. When he asked her age, she panicked and provided a guess, which ultimately led to her being denied entry. Additionally, her physical differences from her sister, such as having different colored eyes, made her nervous and more conspicuous. Had the bouncer decided to take legal action, Alex could have faced serious consequences, including fines and up to five years in prison for identity fraud.

Despite the challenges she faced with her sister’s ID, Alex maintains that using a genuine ID from a family member was a safer choice than attempting to obtain a counterfeit ID. “As long as you know the information on the ID and don’t make any mistakes, it’s a relatively risk-free way to get into places,” she explains.

Sitting at Ryerson’s campus pub, Ram in the Rye, Denis enjoys a beer without any worries. Despite being of legal age for over a year now, he never takes for granted the privilege of being able to use his real ID to order a drink without being questioned.

Thompson explains, “Since the legal age for adulthood is 18, many individuals feel that they should have the right to make their own decisions and purchase alcohol at the age of 18 as well. It’s tempting because you’re considered an adult, yet you’re still limited in what you can do. Many people don’t like that and opt to obtain fake IDs instead of waiting until their 19th birthday.”

Denis reminisces about his nineteenth birthday, the first time he was able to use his real ID to order a drink at a bar. He felt a sense of liberation, knowing that he no longer had to worry about being caught with a fake ID or being turned away from clubs. Waiting until second year to be of legal drinking age was a bit of a challenge, especially with the issues he faced using fake IDs, but he’s grateful that he can finally discard them all. No more Netflix nights for him when he’d rather be out socializing!


Nowadays, bars have become increasingly strict when it comes to fake ID checks, so trying to pass off a homemade ID like Denis did at a local establishment is virtually impossible. Modern IDs have improved in terms of both materials and technology, making them much more difficult to counterfeit. To avoid having your ID confiscated at a bar, it’s best to choose a trusted fake IDs manufacturer.

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