Reporting Suzanne Le Mignot
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Next time you see a police officer, take a closer look.
Fake badges are being used across Illinois. CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports on how law-enforcement agencies are working to stop it.
The X-ray machines at U.S. Customs and Border Protection zero in to catch fake law-enforcement badges.
Hundreds of badges are shipped to the Chicago area each year from overseas.
“A lot of them are dead-on replicas,” Senior Inspector Deputy U.S. Marshal Richard Walenda says.
It’s the job of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to make sure the final destination for the phony badges is at an inspection facility. The majority of the people receiving these fake badges are usually up to no good.
“Some of the individuals that were caught were involved in bank frauds, ripping off drug dealers, stopping motorists at night,” Walenda says.
Supervisory CBP Officer Brian Bell came across something that left him speechless.
“In the last ten years, one of the most shocking things has been opening up a package and seeing my own badge,” he says.
Walenda says his agency works closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Chicago police and numerous other agencies to crack down on the influx of other phony items.
So how does the public stay safe?
“All federal agents and police officers have an ID with their badge and an I.D. card with their photo on it and you can always ask to see their identification,” Walenda says.
Anyone caught with fake law enforcement items can face a $525 fine and possible jail time. All of the seized items are destroyed after they are used for prosecuting each case.