The Harsh Reality of Fake IDs and Music Festivals

The Harsh Reality of Fake IDs and Music Festivals

These days, fake IDs have become much easier for minors and fraudsters to obtain. Sophisticated fakes are openly available on the public web, requiring no special tech knowledge or darkweb access. 

These websites continue to exist under the guise of offering fake IDs as novelty items, despite them sometimes being realistic enough to fool trained officials. Novelty or not, fake IDs pose a very real threat to businesses that cater to legal adults. 

This is especially true at music festivals, where alcohol is common and heavy crowds make it difficult to manually identify fake IDs. 

Fake IDs Are Rampant

With easy accessibility comes widespread proliferation. Fake IDs have been confiscated by the hundreds at music festivals and other live events in recent years. At Coachella, in 2015, more than 350 fake IDs were identified and confiscated by security personnel over the course of a single weekend. These IDs were then assessed to help further future ID validation efforts. However, the unprecedented number of IDs that were identified as fakes may have merely been the tip of the iceberg–it is difficult to determine how many slipped by without detection.

In cases where authorities discover individuals have been furnishing or selling alcohol, tobacco, or another controlled substance to minors, criminal charges are doled out and more serious problems can quickly arise for the festival as a whole.


Minors caught attempting to purchase alcohol are generally met with an infraction and, potentially, a fine to go with it. However, the sellers of alcohol or other controlled substances face more serious consequences. A misdemeanor is common in such cases and having been duped by a fake ID is not necessarily a valid excuse for serving a minor. Each state has its own guidelines and laws governing liquor sales and some are less accepting of ID validation blunders than others. For instance, in Florida, a reasonably realistic-looking ID is considered sufficient for a sale to take place, though it must also meet criteria established by the state. 

Other states may be considerably less lenient in their views, with laws that reflect their proactive stance towards alcohol sales and consumption. In the case of Michigan, alcohol legislation is much tougher on vendors and consumers alike. Sales are not permitted unless a good-faith diligent inquiry as to the person’s identity has been made. Potential liability and general responsibility are placed largely on sellers to ensure they are not selling to minors. 

Depending on the state you are in, you could stand to lose your liquor license for selling to a minor and may face up to a 30-day jail sentence for a first offense in addition to a fine. 

Some states may even suspend the seller’s driver’s license for up to a year if they were found to have allowed a minor to place a purchase. Often enough, both the actual seller involved in the transaction and the liquor license holder are held liable for underage sales. For those caught using a fake ID, penalties can include fines, community service, driver’s license suspension, and potential jail time.

Current ID Validation Methods

Trained employees are up against far more sophisticated fake IDs than ever before, and a  manual inspection of today’s baseline fake will test even the best ID checker. Combine that with all the ID types out there, and its fair to say that any visual process is going to mistake many fake IDs for real ones. Now imagine a new employee trying a visual inspection.

An Advanced, More Accurate Solution

Leveraging technology enables businesses to deploy strong and consistent processes that aren’t twarted by a lack of training or experience. However, many technology solutions use technology to perform a visual inspection with only slightly better results thatn the human eye.

Intellicheck takes a different approach. 

We scan the barcode on ID, and read the format and security features to determine if the ID is real or fake. Its easy to use for employees and even allows customers to scan their own IDs if needed. Because no images have to be uploaded, Intellicheck can return a result in under a second, ensuring that customers don’t get frustrated waiting for a result. It is so accurate – 99.9% – that police departments around the US use it.

Best of all, Intellicheck has been put to use by live event staff already with great success. Built-in special features fit for festival staff can easily be implemented, such as a Do Not Serve List that proves especially handy for combatting concession hoppers. 

Intellicheck can be on a standard mobile phone or a POS scanner. No new equipment is needed, and you can be up and running in no time. 


To see a recorded demo, click here.

A transaction takes place every time you scan /validate an ID.

The transactions that you purchase are available for use for up to one year from the purchase date. When you run out of transactions, you automatically purchase another bucket of the same number of transactions that you originally purchased.

Groups allow you to set-up notifications that are shared across a specific set of devices. For instance if you marked a person as “do not serve” that alert would show when their ID was scanned by any user in the group.

Once you fill in the application form and are approved for purchase, you will be sent a credit card payment link. Once you have made your first payment, then Intellicheck will get you set up and ready to go.

Intellicheck Mobile is the app that your employees use to scan IDs. Once you have your account set-up, you can go to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store to download it for your device. Google Play Store Apple App Store

Standard pricing includes up to 5 devices. These devices will require a separate login, and can be set on the Intellicheck Admin Portal. Customers receive a link to the Admin Portal after they are set up.