The weathered white van marked "Rosa Photo" has been a fixture for years on Callowhill Street, dispensing passport photos and other documents.
Yesterday, capping an investigation into fake IDs, Philadelphia police shut Rosa Photo down.
Major Crimes Unit supervisor Lt. Ed Zachwieja said four employees of the company were arrested, and two vehicles (including the van) were impounded in the bust, which netted copies of 1,000 cards that appeared to be fraudulent IDs.
The cards, imprinted with the logos of Pennsylvania and other states, "look like drivers' licenses" but are useless as legitimate identity documents, Zachwieja said.
To the untrained eye, or a harried cashier seeking a form of picture ID to accompany a customer's bank check, however, the fake cards can look legitimate.
Relatively sophisticated bar-code technology is used to manufacture the cards, Zachwieja said. Then, if doctored with false birth dates, they can be used in nightclubs and other venues where swipe-and-go card-readers are sometimes used to scan for underage patrons, he said.
From his van across the street from where Rosa Photo was parked, competitor Joseph Doe of Wulu Photo said he knew nothing about the genesis of the police action.A few observations and comments:
- How sharp do you need to be to catch these guys if it has been going on for years?
- I'd think with at least 4 employees, 2 cars, 1000 ID cards that someone would have noticed something was going on. What do these guys say when someone asks what they do for a living?
- I love how after calling the cards basically useless, several applications are outlined for the fake ID cards.
- File it under unbelievable that the competitor in a van across the street comments on the bust!
- Again and again we say, ID cards are only as secure as you want to make them. What level of security do you need?