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Beware Of Expired or Counterfeit Press ID

January 6th, 2009

Article By IPA Member: Leonard Rapoport

Company: International Press Assoc.


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We have known about a number of web sites, street vendors in Thailand and individuals that are attempting to duplicate or sell bogus or look alike press id with the International Press Association name on the cards. In addition we have discovered some past IPA members attempting to use their expired IPA credentials, including business cards to gain media access or IPA benefits.

We ask all press officers, law enforcement agencies, companies, media event planners and other IPA members to report any individuals that approach them as a member of IPA and ask for media access, discounts or other benefits on company products or services or access to security sensitive areas.

Their are a few bogus press card mills we know about, one is out of the Cayman Islands where you can purchase a number of bogus identification cards from many industries. Then you will find a number of street operations located in Thailand, selling IPA cards at a cost of $15 USD each, but of course anyone purchasing one knows they are counterfeit, similar to purchasing a designer watch or ladies handbag. You can see their press card here.

Purchased On Streets In Thailand

In Our Offices - 11-06-2006

Another Bogus ID Received

In Our Offices - 2-23-2007

Bogus ID Supplied By FIFA Media Security

Here is the latest report of attempted use of a bogus IPA press card. This came to us on April 14, 2009 from FIFA.com media channel.

Dear Sir or Madam,

A journalist has submitted an on-line registration to access a FIFA media service and has presented the attached IPA press card to verify his credentials as a professional journalist.

We suspect the ID card that has been presented may not be authentic and request your assistance to confirm if the attached IPA card is valid or a counterfeit press ID.

Thank you for your help.

Kind regards,
Alexander Holt
FIFA Media Channel

We emailed this individual to Cease his use of this bogus press card and he has complied with our request. As a result we have now removed his name and blurred his face and information on the card. The Green bogus cards seem to be the biggest problem because they are simply sold on the streets in Thailand and maybe other countries. It will be impossible to stop this from happening, but the constant vigilance and publication of this information will hopefully discourage those that might purchase these cards or attempt to use them.

Now if the above Press Cards weren't bad enough, here is a failed attempt to duplicate our Press identification by an individual in Texas. There are those individuals that will attempt to counterfeit currency, government identification cards or even press identification. For those that are unaware of the consequences of these actions, they should be reminded they are illegal and if caught they can be prosecuted for these criminal offenses.

Latest Counterfeit IPA Press ID, Received

In Our Offices - 3-09-2007

This individual was sent a Cease and Desist Warning and has cooperated with IPA in finding other individuals attempting to do the same. Our investigations continue, with the cooperation of the PPA and we will publish our results of this investigation on our web site.

There are two other web sites using the INTERNATIONAL PRESS ASSOCIATION™ name. One is a Belgium based organization, operating for 30 years or so also under the name International Press Association. Their corporate letters are API (I suppose in French IPA is reversed and becomes API). This article does not deal with API, since they are a legitimate, established European organization, and to the best of our knowledge does not offer any press identification for its members.

The other web site using our name is a California operation that is actually run as a Christian News Organization. This web site is quite small and does not really offer their members the ability to publish their works on the site but they will sell them IPA press cards in violation of IPA's registered trademarks. They have been warned a number of times of their violations in Trademark violation, but continue to issue their no merit press cards and use our trademarked logo. We will probably have to handle this matter in a court of law if they fail to cease use of our mark.

Many people have been confused and rightfully so, by these phony organizations who seem to have no conscience.

Our members receive our IPA authorization and identification free with membership and must submit their work for publication on our site. Our members who do not adhere to our Terms of Membership are not offered renewal at the end of their first year. This can be see by visiting our VOID Members listing on our site. All of the other copy cats have no requirements, nor maintain any member web site.

Now the Cayman Island operation is actually a counterfeit identification card company that sells all sorts of bogus ID, from press id, travel agent cards, international drivers licenses and more to anyone willing to pay for the cards. They do not operate under any pretense of being anything but what they are, a place to buy fraudulent ID, with the sales pitch that their customers will be able to obtain the benefits that are afforded to the various groups of legitimate identification cards.

They may promise free travel benefits with their Travel Agent ID, Media Access with their Press ID and can even sell you an international drivers license that actually has no merit at all. You can identify their Press ID, because they all show the London base on their cards and they all have a long expiration date...see sample cards above. You will note the samples are two variations of their cards.

We urge anyone thinking of purchasing id's from the street or from web sites offering press id, or attempt to reproduce our identification or use our copyrighted logo, to think hard before doing so. Using false or expired IPA™ press identification, or attempting to use our copyrighted and trademarked logo, can be a crime in many countries and to attempt to gain access to security sensitive areas with this ID can land you in jail. If we find you are using our copyrighted materials to claim membership or to produce your own press identification we may bring civil and/or criminal action against you. In addition we will be reporting all reports of attempted use or reproduction of our Press Identification to local and federal law enforcement so they may take appropriate action.

If a web site, magazine, newspaper, or other media source, doesn't publish your work on their site or in their publication, then they should not issue Press ID. If they could, then wouldn't it stand to reason, that anyone with a computer could produce or sell Press ID's. As we know, doing this would have no legitimacy, nor would any intelligent press officer grant any access without further verification. Verification, almost always means, checking the source of the Press card to determine if it is not only legitimate but if this publication, web site or media outlet has high standards and it is a place you would like to see cover your event.

Any press, public relations or security officer worth their salt will almost always want to examine the photographers or journalists work to see if it is legitimate before they grant the media access to an individual. Although I am the president of IPA, I too must direct press officers to our web site and to my work so they can verify I am a photojournalist and will in fact cover their event and publish it on our site in a manner consistent with what they would expect from any professional journalist or photographer.

Our members are authorized to gather articles and photographs for publication on our web site and our letter of authorization clearly states this. Of course, gathering information or publishing work on our site might be our main objective, many of our members also have freelance assignments for other clients. They may use their membership for those assignments or possibly for their own portfolio’s as well. We have found some members have joined IPA strictly for the “Perks” some members of the media receive. This should not be the intent of any member and we have actively screened out those we find have done so. We will also refuse to renew an IPA member if we believe this is their only motivation for membership and they have not completed their members profile on our web site.

These individuals usually join for one year, receive our Press identification kit and or business cards and never renew their membership. Although our Terms of Membership stipulates that current members only are authorized to use this material or represent themselves as members of IPA, we have had reports this is not only the case.

In an effort to stop all unauthorized use by counterfeiter’s as well as past members, we will continue to publish information on our web site of violations including names and contact information of those individuals and will update our Past Member listing which you may view here.

Serious individuals looking to further their careers in our industry should check to see if their are clues about the legitimacy of the sites they visit and the id cards they offer. The clues to the card mills should be quite obvious when one visits those web sites. So be alert and look at the site and if it doesn't seem to have any quality published works on the site and the only benefit of membership is a Press ID, then it should be obvious it is a press ID mill. If your intent is to simply purchase a bogus identification card, then please do not join our organization, it is not the right place for you. If however you have a desire to learn photography and journalism and would like the opportunity to publish your work on our site, then indeed you will be welcome.

Web sites issuing false ID for profit and gain, may of course violate a number of local or international laws. If they promise their customers that their identification cards will give them the ability to obtain goods and services at no cost, which may even be considered “theft of services” be aware this is a red flag. Many have no way to prevent improper use of their ID, nor do they usually care, their purpose is to sell bogus id cards and to that end they will always find someone gullible enough to purchase them. We will continue to be diligent to prevent our members, past and present, from using our media identification in any way inconsistent with the our Terms of Membership.

When a press officer attempts to verify any request for access from one of our members, they will usually go directly to our web site to verify the members work. When they can't locate a member, they will usually call or email our offices and this is how we have become aware of this problem. These inquiries and the confusion continues and the time and effort we spend to answer the requests or explain the difference between our organization and the others has been time consuming and frustrating at best.

See Part 2 ....Example of Attempts to Defraud Using IPA's Name.

Revised: January 7, 2009

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Founder & President Leonard L. Rapoport.