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Full Version: Why fake IDs are so expensive in SR4
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Here's an excellent article by the legendary Bruce Schneier about what it takes to create a bulletproof false identity these days. In a nutshell, it takes years to grow; in fact it takes as long as a real adult human to grow from birth to adulthood. A service is needed to grow these before they're needed so nefarious characters (like Shadowrunners) can pay big bucks and step into them when needed.

QUOTE (Bruce Schneier)
Call it "identity farming." You invent a handful of infants. You apply for Social Security numbers for them. Eventually, you open bank accounts for them, file tax returns for them, register them to vote, and apply for credit cards in their name. And now, 25 years later, you have a handful of identities ready and waiting for some real people to step into them.

Here's the full article

-- Buster
This may be true today, but in Shadowrun, a world with the Matrix, and everything wired together, with a lot of skill.. you could make a false identity, by planting all that data, from the ground up. It would take a lot of work and skill, but it wouldn't be impossible. In fact, even today, with all of the computers and such, a Hacker might be able to do it, though I couldn't say for sure, and it might have some discrepencies.
Kyoto Kid
..actually Fake IDs are a bargain in 4th compared to previous editions. I believe to get the equivalent of a Rating 4 (Rating 6 - 7 in SR III terms) was about 30,000 - 35,000 nuyen.gif.
I would have preferred old-school SINs. They used to be an investment, and enabled you to leave your home. The current rate of SIN-exchanging, which is enforced by the SIN-check mechanics, pretty much justifies the low price.
Once you get the initial birth certificate, this isn't too difficult between the ages of 0 and 18. You'll need to choose a state with lax homeschooling laws (since some states require home-schooled kids attend certain social events, meet with counselors, etc., which would require a child actor and therefore has a possible fault.) However, after that the job issue becomes complex. In order to show income, you need some employer who files taxes to pay this fellow, pay taxes on him and so on, all without actually getting any services. If he doesn't actually pay the fellow, or if he's paid the money he pays to the fellow, there's a significant income discrepancy to the tune of $25k-$50k (depending on what the job is) that is likely to get picked up by the IRS, if not today, in 2060.

Plus, of course, there are other costs. This person needs to show that he's using food, renting a place, etc. Hypothetically, you could spend money from this fake account to feed and house yourself or someone close to you, but that connects the identity back to you which completely invalidates the whole excercise. Ultimately, you need to send an actor in to some apartment and rent some place, and hopefully make it actually look occupied. You need to purchase things like food, things from Ikea, etc. to develop a credit score and a real purchasing history. So we're developing this identity to the tune of $10+k a year. Ouch! Hypothetically you could set up some unusual situations to help defray these costs (he 'works' for the apartment complex, or someone close sells him a house for a song, etc.) but these will generally serve to further connect the identity to you or those around you, and have limited cost-saving benefits in the long run.

In the current day-in-age, you can say you moved overseas, which reduces a lot of these issues. If you're overseas, it's expected many of your costs won't show up on domestic credit cards, you don't need to file local taxes, your 'employer' doesn't need to file taxes at all (if it's a foreign company) and so on. However, this benefit will be significantly reduced with the cross-continental information sharing of 2060.

A significantly smarter current method is, instead of 'growing' an identity, just steal one. That's sort of how people do it right now. You find someone who is currently living and working around where you'd like to operate, or better yet, someone who travels basically all the time or an ex-patriot who has not officially rescinded his citizenship, grap that personal information and use that. As long as you're not making serious trouble, like earning lots of money, defaulting on loans, etc., the person is unlikely to notice. In the near future it may become an issue with filing taxes, since there may be two people filing for the same SSN (depending on how you approach this), but that's about it.

Or alternatively, if you have the contacts to get someone to forge a birth certificate, wouldn't it be smarter to get someone to NOT forge a death certificate?

(As an aside, a social security number currently goes for about $100 on the black market, far, far below what would be the costs for the idea listed above.)
Plus in SR4 a big benefit was crash 2.0. Combined with the amnesty program they initiated to 're-SIN' people who lost their backgrounds, I can totally see the black market abusing that as well smile.gif Consequently fake IDs seem a bit cheaper nowadays than in previous editions. My only gripe is that unless you pull some of the older versions SIN/credstick advantages, like the one that basically improved the TN by 1 per month, being limited to rating 6 (more or less) is kinda low in my opinion.
Before Crash 2.0 fake IDs (up to SR3 R12) cost basically R²×1000¥. After the crash they only cost R×1000¥, so they are much cheaper now (although they are also capped at R6).

One of my house rules (not included in the table below) is that even post crash, Ratings above 6 are available, but they cost R²×1000¥. These high rating IDs fit the concept of "grown" over time rather than created now. The reason that they are cheap compared to pre-Crash is that really cheap R1-6 IDs would devalue even the really good ones.

For example a pre-Crash SR3-R12 ID would cost 120,000¥, the equivalent post-crash SR4-R8 ID would cost my players 64,000¥.

SR3 RAW R²×1000 SR4 RAW
1 1,000¥ 1,000¥ - -
2 4,000¥ 4,000¥ 1 1,000¥
3 9,000¥ 9,000¥ 2 2,000¥
4 16,000¥ 16,000¥ - -
5 25,000¥ 25,000¥ 3 3,000¥
6 30,000¥ 36,000¥ 4 4,000¥
7 35,000¥ 49,000¥ - -
8 40,000¥ 64,000¥ 5 5,000¥
9 90,000¥ 81,000¥ 6 6,000¥
10 100,000¥ 100,000¥ - -
11 110,000¥ 121,000¥ - -
12 120,000¥ 144,000¥ - -
13 650,000¥ 169,000¥ - -
14 700,000¥ 196,000¥ - -
15 750,000¥ 225,000¥ - -
16 800,000¥ 256,000¥ - -
17 850,000¥ 289,000¥ - -
18 900,000¥ 324,000¥ - -
QUOTE (Ryu @ Sep 5 2008, 02:15 AM) *
I would have preferred old-school SINs. They used to be an investment, and enabled you to leave your home. The current rate of SIN-exchanging, which is enforced by the SIN-check mechanics, pretty much justifies the low price.

To be fair, there were plenty of nasty SIN-check mechanics under the older rules, they just tended to be spaced out in various sourcebooks rather than collected into the core rules. Most games I played in tended to burn SIN's fairly quickly. Of course, you also used to be able to function without a Fake SIN when necessary, so long as you kept your head low and avoided the police.

<shrug> Works both ways for me.

If those IDs are cheap depends on how the cash- balance and flow are set in your campaign. Also ID's tend to be easily wasted, so you may have to buy new ones on a regular basis. Again this depends on your campaign. Wouldn't be a shame, if you'd have to invest all your money in IDs? Man, there has to be some spare for a bullet or two...
Ive never had a whole lot of problems preserving ID's, even in SR4. Then again, that may be because I tend to prefer to get in and get out without being noticed at all......
One thing to note is not everyone uses credit cards or even banks. Some people keep their cash mobile 100% of the time. There's still a paper trail on them (like their employment records) but not nearly as much as some people think. I've personally worked with people like that. Until relatively recently, I refused to use any sort of credit system to help avoid getting in debt. (Backfired on me when I found out you can't get loans of *any* kind without some sort of credit, causing me to have troubles with buying furniture, a car, a computer, etc etc etc... stupid fraggin' credit system punishing those avoiding going into debt)
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