The Washington Times - August 13, 2012, 06:55PM

A Chinese company that a group of U.S. senators has criticized for selling high-quality counterfeit U.S. driver’s licenses has shut down operations, its website says.

The lawmakers last week wrote to Zhang Yesui, China’s ambassador to the U.S., to urge his government to “take immediate action” against companies that sell fake U.S. identification cards, saying the practice is a serious national security threat. They called out one company — ID Chief — as being among the worst violators.

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ID Chief via its website had charged $200 for a U.S. driver’s license and a duplicate copy, which the company fully admitted were fake. But the website has been taken down and replaced with a message that it’s “closed for business” and would stop its “novelty ID service.”

The message added: “We also want you to be smart and only use your novelty ID for buying beer in movies, we do not like criminals and do not think we are bad people, we just try to help the poor student have some fun. Again thank you for your support and understanding.”

The letter’s authors are the four senators from Illinois and Iowa; respectively, Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Richard J. Durbin, and Republican Charles E. Grassley and Democrat Tom Harkin.

The Illinois senators issued a joint statement Monday saying they will continue to work to shut down other websites providing fake U.S. identification documents “in order to protect United States’ national security interests.”

“We hope the Chinese government will be a partner in that effort,” said Mr. Durbin and Mr. Kirk.

Brian immer, president of the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, a nonprofit research group in Washington, applauded the senators for taking their complaint directly to the Chinese ambassador.

“It is clear that action soon followed in China leading to an abrupt end to the menace of hundreds of thousands of counterfeit IDs flooding this country,” he said.

Mr. Zimmer said the Chinese fake ID industry in recent years has expanded exponentially and that its manufacturing techniques have become more sophisticated and high tech. He said that a terrorist who  blew up a tourist bus in Bulgaria this summer used a fake Michigan driver’s license.