The operator of an Internet site that sold access to templates and software used to produce false identity documents, such as drivers licenses and birth certificates, has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that his operation violated federal law. The settlement will bar any involvement in the sale of false identification documents, bar the defendant from providing others with the means of breaking the law, and require that he relinquish $20,000 in ill-gotten gains.
On December 12, 2000, at the request of the FTC, a U. S. District Court shut down the Web site of Jeremy Martinez of Tarzana, California, doing business as Info World. The FTC alleged that the defendant's Web site sold 45 days of access to fake ID templates for $29.99. The site contained templates for the creation of fake California, Georgia, Florida, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Utah, Wisconsin and New York drivers licenses. It also contained a birth certificate template, programs to generate bar codes--required in some states to authenticate drivers licenses--and a program to falsify Social Security numbers.
The FTC alleged that Martinez was deliberately marketing his site to consumers who were surfing the net to find fake ID documents. Web sites use meta-tags - hidden words that help search engines identify and index Web site content. Martinez's Meta-tags included "illegal id," "fake id fraud," and "forging documents" according to the FTC complaint.
The agency alleged that selling the fake ID templates violated the FTC Act and that by providing false identification templates to others, Martinez has provided the "means and instrumentalities" for others to break the law. The settlement announced today will resolve that court action.
The settlement bars Martinez from any involvement with the sale of false identification documents, identification templates, or related materials. It also bars him from providing others with the means and instrumentalities to commit deceptive acts, including concealing or altering their identity. In addition, the order requires $20,000 of ill-gotten gains to be forfeited by Martinez. That amount is based on financial declarations made to the FTC and the court regarding his available assets. Should the court determine those financial declarations were false, that determination would trigger a judgment of $105,279, representing the revenues he generated from selling the false identification documents. The settlement also contains record keeping provisions to allow the Commission to monitor compliance.
The Commission vote to accept the settlement was 5-0.
This case was filed with the invaluable assistance of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco Fraudulent Identification Program. The program identifies fraudulent Internet identification issues and has closed 33 Internet sites and recorded 310 arrests for possession of false identification.
The FTC has published a free, comprehensive guide includes information on what consumers can do to reduce their risk of ID theft; how consumers can protect their personal information; the steps consumers can take if they do become victims of ID theft; and a directory of government resources available to ID theft victims. The booklet is available by calling 1-877-IDTHEFT or by visiting www.ftc.gov/idtheft.
NOTE: A Stipulated Final Judgment and Order is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendant of a law violation. Consent judgments have the force of law.
Copies of the stipulated final judgment and order are available from the FTC's web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the online complaint form. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
James A. Kohm
Bureau of Consumer Protection
(FTC File No. X01 0019)
(Civil Action No.00-12701-CAS)