Eric Heath, 25, Daniel McIlhinney, 26, and Frank Mannino Jr., 27, were arraigned yesterday at the District Courthouse in Warrington. Judge Oliver Groman set unsecured bail at $25,000 each. Arraignment dates for Jeff Neamand, 23, John Freudig, 25, and Jason Webster, 21, have yet to be set.
Rubenstein said the men would go onto a college campus and offer to make fake IDs at $100 a piece, cash only. They wouldn't visit a college unless their contact could guarantee them at least 10 sales. If their contact could get 10 sales, the contact would get his ID for free.
Rubenstein said the scammers would photograph students on campus in front of a blue posterboard, download the New Jersey state seal from the Internet and airbrush the hologram. All IDs seized for evidence were New Jersey driver's licenses, and he said they were incredibly high-quality.
``They were even able to reproduce the hologram that was created to be the fail-safe method of telling a fake ID from a real one,'' said Rubenstein.
Webster, a senior at Moravian College, in Bethlehem, allegedly got the scammers 300 sales.
``We had never had any problems like this before,'' said Mike Wilson, spokesman for Moravian. ``We began to hear rumors that fake IDs were circulating a year ago, but we didn't realize the magnitude.''
Webster's status as a student at Moravian is under review by administrators.
Moravian was not the only institution affected. A 16-month grand jury investigation found that the ID makers had hit nearly 30 colleges on the East Coast, including several Philadelphia-area colleges. Rubenstein estimates that the men had made nearly $1 million from the scam.
Jim Conway, criminal investigator for Villanova University, said production time was so fast that the perpetrators could be on and off a campus without being noticed by authorities.
``We get up to 1,500 new students every September, and these guys come in, set up in someone's dorm room and they're out in two days,'' said Conway.
``By the time we realize the fake IDs are out there, the perpetrators have made a year's income and are long gone.''
All the defendants are from the Philadelphia area.
Martin King, attorney for McIlhinney, said his client is a ``fine upstanding individual, born and raised in Pennsylvania who could not have committed the crimes.''
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