The Law on Identification Fraud

By Jimmy Singh & Tayla Regan

Heavy penalties apply in NSW for using fake ID in various circumstances.

One of the most common circumstances include minors using fake ID’s to purchase alcohol, cigarettes or entering pubs and clubs. More serious kinds of this is identify fraud, and is costing Australia billions of dollars.

There are various fraud offences carrying heavy penalties, which also have a range of defences available in NSW. however, the below relate specifically to identification fraud.

Penalties for Minor ID offences

With a single click, the internet can direct you to a range of websites which will sell you a form of fake ID for as little as $60.

In an attempt to escape legal consequences, many of these websites will advertise that the fake ID’s are to be used for novelty purposes only and are not to be used for an illegal reason.

Detective Superintendent Colin Dyson, former Commander of NSW Police Fraud and Cybercrime Squad, said in 2013 that the penalties that can apply for using fake ID’s depend on the intention of the maker and user.

A very popular site, using facebook advertisements, is Fakies.com.au, who sell a large variety of hologram ID cards for up to $60. These cards can be in the form of NSW or Victorian student and proof of age cards showing the personal details you ask for it to include, including your date of birth.

The site’s facebook page has a large number of followers who have even left reviews as happy customers.

There are also other sources that allow people to purchase fake ID’s from the black markets on the internet. One can imagine the concerns arising from the easy access of fake ID’s to minors.

Using Fake ID to get into Licenced Premises

It is an offence for a minor (who is under the age of 18 years), to gain entry into, or obtain alcohol from, a licenced premises (club or pub), using a fake ID.

Under s129 Liquor Act 2007 (NSW), this attracts a penalty of up to $2,200 fine by the court.

You can also receive an on the spot fine of $220.

More commonly, you may get away with a warning.

It is also an offence for a minor who is suspected to be under 18 in a licensed venue, to refuse or fail to provide the full name, home address and date of birth, if requested by the venue staff, including the security or bar tender in the venue (or even by police). The same penalties apply, reflected in s128 Liquor Act 2007 (NSW).

A minor in a licensed venue and/or obtaining alcohol from such a venue will also create a risk to the venue, who may be subject to large fines and loss of liquor licence.

What are the legal forms of Identification?

Section 4 Liquor Act 2007 (NSW), explains what an “evidence of age document” means, and include, a form of document that bears a photo of you, which also indicates your age, and is not expired. This can include

  • Driver licence or rider licence issues by the RMS or a corresponding public authority of another state or Territory;
  • Photo card issued pursuant to Photo Card Act 2005;
  • An RTA or RMS proof of age card issued by the RMS;
  • Australian or foreign passport

Penalties for Serious Identity Fraud Offences

According to a 2016 Australian Bureau of Statistics Report, around 126,300 people in Australia were the victims of identity theft. With the total estimated financial loss to card fraud in 2015 was $2.1 billion dollars.

Fake ID’s can be used to commit serious forms of crime known as identity theft-which is a type of fraud, and considered a crime in NSW.

Due to the progression in technology, the NSW Crimes Act was amended in 2010 to create laws that punish those who use fake ID’s for the purposes of committing serious crimes. These are found in Part 4AB of the Crimes Act 1900.

It’s a criminal offence, which carries a penalty of up to 7 years imprisonment in NSW, to possess identification information only where you possess it with the intention of:

  • Committing or facilitating an offence that carries a penalty of at least 5 years imprisonment.

This is reflected in section 192K Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

It’s also an offence to make, supply or use identification information with the intention of committing any crime that carries a penalty of at least 5 years imprisonment in NSW. this is reflected in s192J Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

It’s also a criminal offence carrying a penalty of up to 3 years imprisonment to possess equipment that’s capable of making fake identification, where you have it for the purposes of facilitating any crime that carries a penalty of at least 5 years imprisonment (s192L Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)).

What does ‘identification information’ mean?

‘identification information’ means information about a person, whether he/she is dead or alive, fictitious or a body corporate, that is capable of being used to identify or try to identify the person. This includes:

  • A name or address;
  • Date or place of birth, marital status;
  • Driver licence, or licence number;
  • Passport or passport number;
  • Voice print;
  • Biometric data;
  • Credit or debit card, its numbers or data stored or encrypted on it;
  • Digital signature;
  • ABN

This definition is reflected in s192I Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

There are commonwealth penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment for knowingly providing, possessing or making false travel or identity documents. These offences also carry fines of up to $110,000. (s73.9 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Clth)).

The Australian Federal Police have joined with a Police Strike Team to also target these types of crimes, however, identity theft continues to cost Australians billions of dollars.

In 2015, the NSW Police Fraud Squad arrested four people in Sydney who were found with approximately 5,000 fake ID’s and hundreds of personal property, pay slips, bank statements and false identity documents.

It was reported that the fake ID’s had been used to board a domestic flight and commit fraud against many financial institutions. The Head of the Fraud Squad claimed that this was an example of ‘a highly sophisticated operation into the high level of manufacturing of fake identification cards and other documentation’.

For more information on identity fraud offences, you can speak to one of our specialist fraud lawyers located in our Sydney, Parramatta & Liverpool offices.

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