If you're a broke college sophomore without a look-a-like older sibling, a fake ID is an investment. High-grade, "scannable" IDs run $200 to $300 online. Cards from sketchy back-room printers typically cost around $150. And then there's always the threat of a really serious financial hit—a cop swiping your fake, charging you with underage drinking, and ultimately making you pay way more than whatever ID you can buy.
Investors, meet your new worst enemy: BarZapp. An app that promises to catch "most" fakes, BarZapp scans a driver's license's barcode and verifies encoded information, "displaying the card owner's name, date of birth, ID expiration and ID number." Adding insult to injury? It runs only $1.99 on the iTunes store.
Something so expensive, undone by something so small. It's like a Capri Sun spilling on a MacBook Pro. Or the opposite of the Lakers' 2013 season.
From the Huffington Post:
BarZapp was created by Intellicheck Mobilisa CEO Nelson Ludlow of Port Townsend, Wash., Discovery News reports. Although the introductory version is just a couple bucks on the iTunes App Store, serious bar and restaurant owners will need to purchase annual or monthly licenses, according to a company release.
Ludlow admitted to U.S. News & World Report the app won't be able to stop every fake, but emphasized it is a cheap and pretty efficient option for most bars.
"We don't catch all fake IDs, but we do catch a lot," Ludlow said. "China is making a lot of high-end fake IDs that people pay 200 or 300 dollars for, and we catch a significant amount of them. If someone fiddles with a date or something in the bar code ... you better do it exactly the right way."
Bro Hater Ludlow added that the app keeps track of bargoers, so it can identify who has been given the lifetime boot from a particular establishment. And BarZapp can theoretically stop middle-aged people from claiming a senior citizen's discount at the Golden Corral—leading to an interaction that would be the saddest in world history.
If there is a silver lining, it's that MotherBoard's independent test found that a high-end fake essentially shut down the app:
When I tested the card on a friend's particularly high-grade fake (ordered online for a whopping $200 -- it supposedly bested blacklights and bouncers' scanners in the past), BarZapp did not say it was invalid, but it didn't approve it either. The phone more or less froze, suggesting that the technology is not 100 percent fool-proof yet. A street-smart 18-year-old could claim that the lack of an "invalid" message does not prove the card is a fake. Similarly, one could always use a sibling's expired ID to triumph the app, though outsmarting the bouncer is another story.
Still, the tech will probably improve. Something like BarZapp was inevitable. And if you think this won't lead to some sort of fake-ID space race between counterfeiters and the app's makers, you have vastly underestimated underage kids' drive to drink. They will demand an answer to BarZapp. This won't end well.
[H/T: HuffPo College]