A TEENAGE boy was so desperate to buy a packet of cigarettes he altered his passport – and ended up in court.
The 15-year-old fraudster, who cannot be named for legal reasons, tried to use the falsified passport at a supermarket in Hylton Castle, Sunderland.
But staff noticed his attempt to dupe them last month and called police.
The teenager admitted the offence of using false ID, when he appeared at Sunderland Youth Court.
Prosecutor Michael Rose said: “The passport had been altered so instead of the date of birth being 1997, he amended it to read a date of 1991, which indicated he was 21. It was rapidly detected and he was refused service.
“He was using the passport for the purposes of buying cigarettes.”
Defending, Gavin Sword said the boy had taped numbers over his date of birth in a failed bid to fool shop workers.
“I don’t think anybody was going to believe he was 21, so he was bound to fail in that enterprise,” he added.
The teenager also admitted criminal damage, when he kicked the window of a bus.
City magistrates ordered him to carry out 12 hours of reparation work over the next three months.
Last month, the Echo reported how desperate teenagers were resorting to tampering with their passports, to use as proof of age to get a drink in city centre bars.
Police have seized a number of passports and driving licences as they crack down on the worrying new trend.
They have warned that anyone found with forged documents faces arrest and prosecution.
This also applies to people using someone else’s passport or driving licence.
Inspector Mick Hall said: “Using ID with false information is a serious offence.
“Anyone caught could find themselves arrested and end up with a criminal record, which could affect their future before they’ve even finished school or college.”
Bar, club and shop owners say they have been shown documents in recent months that have had dates of birth obviously changed.
Other teenagers have also tried to pass off other people’s ID as their own.
All altered documents and passports seized by police will now be cut up and sent to the Passport Office or relevant agencies to be destroyed.
The owners will then have to apply and pay for a new passport.