By D.O. Genez; March 12, 2018
In 2016, we reported on a terrifying murder plot against NYPD officers by a disturbed New York City teenager, Ranbir Shergill. 18 years old at the time, Shergill began carrying out meticulously planned steps towards his ultimate goal, a rampage of carnage through New York City streets that summer. First on his list was getting a fake ID.
Shergill ordered a fake ID online using the darknet, a level of the internet that lets users operate anonymously and is commonly used for the sale and trade of illicit goods or services due to its untraceable nature. Using a .tor browser, which connects the users to the darknet by scrambling their ip addresses, Shergill was able to find a high-quality fake ID vendor who sold and delivered him a counterfeit Ohio driver’s license. Shergill paid in bitcoins, a form of anonymous and untraceable electronic currency.
For Shergill’s next step, he traveled to Ohio and purchased a handgun using that Ohio fake ID. He traveled back to New York with a Glock 17 in hand, the weapon he planned to use to murder the police officers. A note on his phone read, “Do it during a snow storm… go from Dunkin Donuts on van wyck after shooting and killing officers they will be wearing coats. And one will be male other female. Then try to kill other NYPD officers.”
Fortunately, Shergill was reported and arrested before he could carry out his plot. Authorities found seven magazines, 118 rounds of ammunition, and the Glock pistol at his house before he could use it.
Shergill almost certainly got the ID he purchased a gun with from TedDanzig, the darknet’s oldest and most successful fake ID vendor. TedDanzig only makes Ohio IDs, only operates on the darknet through a site only only accessible through a .tor browser, only accepts bitcoins for payment, and charges the same amount that Shergill paid for his ID.
When someone on a Reddit forum where TedDanzig is active linked the article and wrote, “Ted, is that you?” TedDanzig responded, “The price + OH + tor use does imply he bought from us. I almost don’t want to check my order history.”
Shergill was caught but TedDanzig has sold thousands of other high quality Ohio IDs across the world and has since upgraded to an even higher quality Michigan ID, of which he’s also sold thousands. The Michigan IDs were cheap and almost undetectable, according to anonymous online reviews like this one:
“Ok so this id is amazing. I am from california close to San Diego. I have used it at numerous liquor stores, The tilted Kilt, and at a pretty strict bar in my town. Here is where the #%#^ gets real. I went to LAS VEGAS. Used it at many bars no questions asked. Used it at a big pool party at the palms, passed the bend test and the $%#^ bouncer. I ALSO went to a huge club that night too!! And the bouncer was so strict and had pulled three fakes already when i was in line and there were cops around. I was #%#^ myself when i was next in line. OK he looks at it for like five seconds gives it right back to me and i was on my way.”
TedDanzig’s fake ID sales could have continued indefinitely. He was even about to roll out a new Utah fake ID that was even more undetectable than his Michigan. That ID could have been used by customers like Shergill throughout the world, in cities big and small, to buy guns, rent trucks, or board airplanes. However, last month, TedDanzig was finally taken down.
It was a result of an investigation dating back to 2015, when Ohio Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials first learned of TedDanzig after a Suspicious Activity Report indicating an influx of counterfeit Ohio driver’s licenses. DPS agents discovered the online marketplace and placed their own order, receiving a counterfeit Ohio ID in eight days, taped between baseball cards to avoid detection. The agents consulted with postal inspectors who determined that the complex shipping techniques had left the package “impossible to trace”.
But shrewd investigators learned of a 2008 case involving a Toledo-based counterfeiter named Mark A. Simon. Further examination of that case and Simon’s recent activity, including post-doctoral work in physics at the University of Toledo, indicated that Simon might be TedDanzig. By careful surveillance, trash pulls, and accessing private messages that TedDanzig sent on Reddit, the investigators were able to determine that Simon was indeed TedDanzig and that he was operating the massive document mill out of his house in Toledo using runners, tumbling deliveries, high tech machinery, and latex gloves to cover any trace of evidence.
On February 6, 2018, US Secret Service agents and Ohio DPS executed search warrants at four addresses around Toledo, OH. One of them was Simon’s, where they recovered 30 digital wallets containing $4.7 million in bitcoin, 21 gold and silver bars, 233 gold and silver coins, $7,000 cash, six fake IDs, numerous computers, heat shields, six cell phones, six modems, and 20 printer plates. Mark Alex Simon charged with corrupt activity, money laundering, identity fraud, manufacture, transfer, sale, or distribution of false identification cards, telecommunications fraud, forgery, and possession of criminal tools. Three other accomplices were also arraigned in the case.Thanks to diligent law enforcement officers, one of the world’s biggest and most dangerous document mill operators is now in custody. The TedDanzig site is still up, but we somehow suspect it’s no longer being operated by Mark A. Simon. Here’s hoping the Ohio DPS and US Secret Service receive a whole lot of orders.