07/18/2013 12:50 EDT | Updated 09/17/2013 05:12 EDT

Toronto police probe targets 'novelty' fake ID retailer

Three people have been arrested following an investigation into a Yonge Street business that police allege has been selling fake government identification and student ID cards as novelty items.

Toronto police Det. Barry Radford told reporters Thursday that over the course of the investigation, detectives learned the shop, known as the ID Shack, was also operating a lucrative online store.

"It wasn't just a small little shop," Radford said. "They had a website up … and when you viewed the website, it was rather intense. You could get identification from every province except Ontario, and every state in the United States of America."

Police seized computers, printers, about $3,000 in Canadian cash and $500 in U.S. dollars while executing a search warrant on Tuesday at the Yonge Street business. A number of cards created as fake credentials were also seized. They included false documents for members of the media, a security officer and a firefighter.

The ID Shack's website claims: "We produce Novelty ID Cards with the latest technology, including holograms, ultraviolet printing, magnetic encoding on the stripe and barcode, PVC cards with current designs, all printed using a high-definition printer."

Radford told reporters Thursday that an officer posing as an online customer was able to order provincial documents as well as a fake student ID for a university. Another undercover officer later went into the downtown store and was sold a fake ID "under the pretense of buying identification for a relative," Radford said.

"During the investigation, I even went in there myself one time and made up a story, saying that my son found their website online and wanted to make sure it was a legitimate business," he added. "[An employee] was willing to sell me identification right then and there if I had a picture of my son."

Classified as 'novelty' identification

Radford said the operators attempted to circumvent the law by classifying their business as a graphic-design company that produces and sells "novelty" items.

The three people charged are the owner of the business as well as two employees. They are each charged with selling identity documents, illegally possessing government identity documents, exposing counterfeit marks, forgery, possessing instruments of forgery, uttering forged documents and possession of property obtained by crime.

Radford said customers could potentially purchase fraudulent identification for more nefarious reasons than just gaining entrance into bars or for buying alcohol as minors.

"It has serious ramifications," he said, noting that a suspect arrested recently for more serious fraud-related crimes was in possession of a fake ID.

"We have proof that criminals are using these cards for criminal activities."

The bust comes after a CBC investigation conducted late last year on a thriving fake ID market in Toronto.