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Faking it

Rob Amen
| Friday, Sept. 7, 2007

About four months ago, Brian Vetere was manning the door on a random weeknight at his family-owned Carson City Saloon on the South Side when he spotted a fake ID.

"It was my best friend's ID," said Vetere, 25, who runs the bar with his brother and father. His friend had moved to New York and gave his license to a friend.

"I looked at the ID, and I said, 'I know this guy,' " Vetere said. "He said, 'That's me.' I said, 'No, it's not.' For two minutes, the kid was trying to explain that it was him."

College might be back in session, but bar owners and managers said there is never a summer break for fake IDs.

Better technology and more well-informed teenagers have made it easier to create fakes.

According to a survey of more than 22,000 current or former college students by, 19 percent of girls and 26 percent of guys got fake IDs their freshman year -- when most are only 18 years old.

It's an issue that's gained popularity in recent weeks thanks to the comedy "Superbad," in which high school boys make a fake ID with a single name -- McLovin -- in the hopes of scoring booze and babes.

"They are very professional now," said Penny Folino, owner of Folino's Ristorante and Tom's Diner on the South Side and Vasta in Dormont. "You won't be able to spot a fake ID unless it's poorly done.

"I always tell my staff at the door, 'If they don't look 40 years old, they have to (have ID).' "

That partly explains one of the most memorable carding incidents in Pittsburgh.

Actress Sienna Miller was denied entry to Folino's because she did not have ID. According to witnesses, Miller threw a tantrum, then snuck in a backdoor, only to get booted by a Folino's bouncer.

The incident gained national and international attention and prompted Folino to spend $28,000 on a security-camera system, she said.

Many bars have mobile ID scanners to help bouncers detect fakes. When an ID's electronic strip is swiped, similar to a credit card, the scanner indicates whether the ID is legit.

Still, that doesn't stop people from trying to pass off fakes, said Amy Sciubba, manager at Casey's Draft House.

Three teenage boys once tried New Jersey IDs, two of which had the same driver license numbers and expiration dates. One didn't have the proper background, Sciubba said.

A teenage girl actually presented her real ID, only to tell Sciubba it was her friend's and that she had left hers in her car.

"You always have to be on guard," Sciubba said. "You just can't underestimate college kids."

    College: What to expect
  • 44 percent of freshmen drank their first night at college; guys were 49 percent more likely than girls to drink the first night.
  • The Freshman 15 is more like the Freshman 5. On average, girls gained 5.4 pounds their freshman year and guys 5.9 pounds.
  • 67 percent of girls and 78 percent of guys got along with their roommates.
  • 65 percent of students had sex with one person or nobody their freshman year; 13 percent slept with four or more people.

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