ORONO (AP) – Three University of Maine students are responsible for making and selling fake identification cards that have been showing up across the state, police said.

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University Police Chief Noel March said the fakes were so good he couldn’t tell the difference when he first looked at them. “And I’ve been in the business for 23 years,” he added.

It’s unclear how many phony IDs were produced, but they’ve been getting around. One was confiscated by Border Patrol agents at the Jackman border crossing.

The university police investigation began last month with the arrest of an underage male for drinking in public, March said.

An interview with the student determined he had paid $100 for his fake ID.

Facing charges are Daniel Bowe, 20, of Sebago Lake; Kenneth Hoyt, 20 of Gorham; and Matthew Gibbons, 19, of Daytona Beach, Fla.

Gibbons and Hoyt face misdemeanor forgery charges that carry a maximum penalty of a year in jail and fines, March said. Bowe faces a felony charge that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The three allegedly made the fake IDs in a dorm room using materials purchased over the Internet, March said.

“The ease with which these students were able to access templates and purchase materials from the Internet is an alarming example of how the World Wide Web can be used to pursue criminal purposes,” he said.

The students voluntarily turned over materials they had been using to create the identification cards.

The cards were the old-style laminated Maine driver’s licenses.

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The new, credit card-style licenses are more difficult to reproduce because of added features, March said.

The phony IDs were being used by students to purchase alcohol, not to commit other crimes, March said.

AP-ES-05-10-03 1214EDT