With the rise of digital transactions and online interactions, the risk of encountering fake identity documents has surged. Perpetrators, from amateurs to those producing high-quality replicas, employ various means to deceive systems and gain unauthorised access. Learning how to spot a fake ID is crucial to any business. This guide delves into the art of spotting fake Identity Documents (IDs) and offers insights to fortify security measures.

Identity Document Forgery Methods

Fraudsters employ various methods to create fake IDs. Let’s look at the most common types. 

Manual Alteration

This method involves tampering with a valid photo identification card or other identity document issued by legal authorities, and stolen from the rightful owner. Fraudsters modify or erase identification elements such as photos or names on physical documents. When performed by sophisticated criminals, these fake document alterations can often go unnoticed by the human eye. 

While genuine documents have security features like holograms, UV light elements, VIZs, and Machine Readable Zones (MRZs), these fake IDs might exhibit misaligned holograms, lack expected UV features, or have MRZs that don’t match the document data, features that AI can discern but may be challenging for the human eye. 


Some fake IDs are created entirely from scratch. To produce genuine-looking fake passports or fake IDs, fraudsters use authentic stamps, holograms, ink patches, and UV dull paper, creating forgeries that are virtually indistinguishable from real documents. 

With these counterfeits, fraudsters might reuse the same ID number for multiple attempts with different fake IDs, making systems recognising repeating sequences crucial for effective fraud prevention. Inconsistent photos, deviating from strict document requirements can also signal forged IDs. Visual clues, including irregularities in fonts, spacing, and design, a wrong expiration date serve as indicators of counterfeit documents.

Computer Simulation 

Synthetic identity fraud combines original data with fake ID information. This involves selling pre-made blank documents tailored to a specific identity type. Additionally, digital services allow individuals to create a fake passport, fake ID card or fake driving licence from scratch. As these processes are quick and cost-effective, many forgeries are produced in this manner. 


This involves using artificial intelligence, particularly deep learning algorithms, to create highly realistic fake videos or audio recordings. These algorithms analyse and manipulate existing audio and video footage to make it appear as if someone is saying or doing things they never actually did. This can often be used in identity fraud attempts, with fraudsters using stolen or altered IDs and attempting to pass a deepfake off as the document owner during verification. 

How to Spot a Fake ID 

The important thing to remember when talking about spotting a fake document is that there’s a need to distinguish between manual and automated identity verification. 

Manual Identity Verification 

This includes people checking identity documents. That may be as simple as a bartender asking for a document to confirm a person is of age and as complicated as a bank teller spending hours or even days to confirm that all provided information is accurate. 

Although acceptable in some cases, manual identification relies on primitive methods that not only take much longer, but focus heavily on simpler visual clues. On top of this, manual identification is prone to human error. 

Automated Identity Verification

On the other side of the process, we have automated identification. With a good system, this can take as little as 60 seconds. It involves AI algorithms that can easily double-check any data with governmental registries, performs liveness checks to guard against deepfakes and can easily read MRZs.

Automated identity verification systems employ various techniques to spot fake IDs. Here are some common methods:

Security Features Analysis: Advanced identity verification systems use AI to analyse security features such as MRZs, UVs and holograms for consistency and authenticity. 

Document Structure Analysis: AI algorithms examine the overall structure of ID documents, including the arrangement of information, fonts, and design elements. Deviations from standard patterns found in genuine documents can indicate potential forgeries.

Pattern Recognition: Identity verification systems leverage pattern recognition to identify anomalies in the layout and formatting of documents. This includes analysing the placement of text, images, and other elements to detect irregularities that may be indicative of a fake ID.

Face Matching and Biometrics: Systems use facial recognition technology to match the person’s face on the ID with a live image or a previously captured image during the verification process. Biometric data, such as fingerprints or iris scans, can also be employed for additional verification.

Data Verification: Cross-referencing the information on the ID with external databases and sources helps verify the accuracy of the provided details. Inconsistencies or discrepancies in the data, such as mismatched names or addresses, can signal potential fraud.

Machine Learning for Anomaly Detection: Identity verification systems often incorporate machine learning algorithms that learn from vast datasets to identify subtle patterns associated with authentic IDs. This allows the system to adapt and improve its ability to detect new and evolving methods of forgery.

Tips for Businesses and Security Professionals

Establish Clear Protocols

Implement clear protocols for ID verification, especially in high-risk environments. Having standardised procedures ensures consistency and reduces the likelihood of oversight.

Invest in ID Verification Technology

Utilise advanced ID verification tools that can quickly and accurately assess the authenticity of an ID. Automated systems can detect subtle details that may go unnoticed by the human eye.

How Does Ondato’s Automated Solution Help?

Although telling legitimate and fake IDs apart can be tricky when done manually, Ondato’s automated identity verification solution can ensure 99.8% accuracy. On top of this, it provides:

Regulatory Compliance:

Our automated identity verification solution can assist companies in meeting regulatory compliance requirements. By ensuring a robust and standardised verification process, we help organisations adhere to industry regulations and prevent legal complications.

Cost Savings:

The long-term benefits of Ondato include cost savings for your company. The efficiency and accuracy of automated systems reduce the need for extensive manual labour and can cut KYC-related costs by up to 90%.

Efficiency and Speed:

Automation allows for swift document verification, enabling companies to process large volumes of identification documents quickly. Ondato’s solution takes just 60 seconds to confirm the identity of your clients. This efficiency is particularly crucial in industries where time-sensitive decisions are required, such as financial services or security.

Advanced Technology:

At Ondato, we leverage advanced technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, to detect sophisticated forgery techniques. These technologies can identify subtle inconsistencies that might be challenging for human eyes to notice.

Comprehensive Analysis:

Our solution can analyse various aspects of a document simultaneously, including fonts, holograms, UV features, and more. This comprehensive analysis ensures a thorough examination of the document for signs of forgery, enhancing overall security.

Reduced Human Error:

Human judgement can be influenced by various factors, including fatigue, stress, or preconceived notions. Automated systems eliminate such biases, providing an objective and impartial assessment of IDs.

Overall, spotting false documents is a skill that requires vigilance, attention to detail, and the use of advanced technology. These solutions are essential in combating the rising sophistication of identity fraud and maintaining trust in various industries. By staying informed about the latest forgery techniques and investing in robust ID verification processes, businesses and security professionals can create a safer and more secure environment for everyone involved. Don’t let the deception of fake IDs compromise your integrity.

    Stay in the loop with the latest industry news
    Thousands of subscribers already joined our monthly mailing list to receive the latest news, updates and insider information on our product. Join them by entering your email below.


    Yes, even the most sophisticated fake ID can be detected by a comprehensive automated solution.
    The three most common types of fake IDs are:
    Borrowed IDs.
    Forged IDs.
    Altered IDs.
    There are many indicators of fake IDs. When checking IDs by hand, attention should be paid to: the birth date, the expiration date, the fonts, the lack of holograms, the personal information, ID numbers, provided photos and many more discrepancies.
    Many people have been checking IDs manually using the physical appearance of both the ID and the person presenting it when, say, underage customers want to purchase alcohol.

    However, for businesses, it is crucial to employ technological solutions. They can check whether an ID is fake in seconds and examine more than the visual aspects, as they can read MRZs, VIZs, check information against various databases, compare biometric data and much more.