Over a recent weekend, the Vermont Department of Liquor Control’s Compliance and Enforcement Division kicked off “Operation Prevent” in the Greater Burlington Area. The goal of this effort is to prevent individuals who are under 21-years-old from obtaining and consuming beverage alcohol.
In recent years, there has been a proliferation of fake identification used by individuals under 21-years-old to obtain beverage alcohol. These fake IDs are being procured over the internet often from out-of-country manufacturers. While states have endeavored to make their identification documents more secure difficult to forge, these offshore manufacturers have also improved the quality of their fakes. “Operation Prevent” works to identify and seize these fake IDs and prosecute the users.
The DLC, in partnership with our licensed establishments, are deploying sophisticated ID scanning equipment which quickly scans an ID and determines if it is authentic or fake. In the first weekend of the operation over 400 fake or otherwise fraudulent IDs were seized by Liquor Control Investigators and partnering licensed establishments. Based on interviews with users these seized IDs cost them approximately $100 each so over $40,000 in fake IDs were seized.
The DLC has been awarded a grant from the Vermont Department of Health to purchase 12 additional ID scanners. Once these are delivered the DLC plans to expand “Operation Prevent” throughout the state. This will include use of the ID scanners as well as enhanced training for licensed establishments to help them better identify fake IDs. The DLC will be loaning out the ID scanning equipment to local law enforcement agencies around the state and will put the units into 802 Spirits stores and other licensed establishments. The grant funds will also allow DLC to create joint state and local law enforcement task forces which will blanket an area looking for fake IDs.
The DLC is in the process of bringing enforcement action against those who were in possession of the fake or fraudulent IDs. Under Vermont law the penalty for possession of a fake ID is a $299 fine and a 60-day driver’s license suspension. Further sanctions are possible if the ID was used to obtain beverage alcohol. Where appropriate the DLC is also making referrals to college disciplinary panels for violations of the college’s code of conduct. Finally, purchasers of these fake IDs should be aware that they are providing organized criminals with personal information as the fake IDs often contain accurate information other than the date of birth. This information could be used to steal the purchaser’s identity.
About the Vermont Department of Liquor Control (DLC)
The mission of the Vermont Department of Liquor Control is to serve the public by encouraging responsible consumption and preventing the misuse of beverage alcohol and tobacco through the controlled distribution, education, and licensing of sellers, as well as the wise use of enforcement. The Department works to provide excellent customer service in conjunction with our Agency Partners to operate efficient, convenient, and profitable liquor stores. All profits from the Department’s operations are contributed to the State of Vermont’s General Fund with over $300,000,000 being contributed since 2000.
Skyler Genest, Compliance & Enforcement Director