Student admits to ID ring

Sheila Burt

A Weinberg freshman turned himself into University Police on Thursday morning and was charged with distributing fake IDs to several Northwestern students, police said.

Eric S. Lau, 19, was charged with two felonies: one count of unlawful transfer of fake IDs and one count of unlawful possession of fake IDs.

Assistant Chief Daniel McAleer of UP said police received information May 21 about an NU student — later identified as Lau — who had provided several other students with fake New York driver’s licenses. Police also discovered that Lau had received a package containing several fake IDs on May 20, McAleer said.

Police contacted Lau on Monday and he handed police two fake New York licenses he was carrying — one with a false birth date and one with a different name and birth date — McAleer said. Lau also told police he had provided fake IDs to several NU students since Fall Quarter, and had received a package of 20 fake IDs via United Parcel Service on May 20.

Using information found on Lau’s computer and from from the package sent on May 20, police identified 21 NU students who possibly bought fake IDs from Lau, McAleer said.

McAleer said UP has been in contact with most of the students, who either handed over fake IDs or said their IDs previously had been confiscated at liquor establishments. The students face possible discipline through the university’s Office of Student Affairs.

McAleer said Lau distributed the majority of fake IDs from the package, but still had three — in addition to the two of his own fake IDs — which he handed over to UP.

Through e-mail, Lau sent pictures and information about students to a friend in Jamaica, N.Y., so his friend could the make the fakes, McAleer said. The friend then sent the fake IDs back to Lau through regular mail or UPS.

McAleer said UP is in contact with police in New York about possible charges against the friend, who received payments from Lau.

Lau usually charged about $40 per fake ID, but told police he more recently charged $60, McAleer said.

With Lau’s permission, police searched his dorm room in McCulloch Hall and found several photo files and text files that may have been used to order fake IDs on his computer.

Lau is scheduled to appear June 1 in Circuit Court in Skokie.

Conviction on a felony charge usually involves prison time of one year or more and/or a minimum $1,000 fine, McAleer said.

Lau could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The incident marks the second time this year that an NU student surrendered to police on charges of the distribution of fake IDs.

“I would hope (after) two incidents that people would understand it,” McAleer said. “It’s probably not a good idea to get in the fake ID business.”

Beyond the NU community, Evanston Police Department officials also have been emphasizing the seriousness of owning a fake ID.

“I really think people should not play around with fake IDs,” said Chief Frank Kaminski of EPD. “That’s taking behavior to a different level.”

McCormick freshman Jenny Rocci said she knows Lau and that he had told her about his arrest.

Rocci said many NU students have fake IDs and aren’t worried always about getting caught.

“I think most people (who have fake IDs) think they won’t get in trouble because the majority of people don’t,” said Rocci, a McCulloch resident.

But she said she knew consequences are worse for selling IDs than for possessing them.

“I would never sell fake IDs,” she said.

The Daily’s Alison Knezevich contributed to this report.