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November 17, 2010

LITTLE ROCK -- Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced today that he has filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Beraca Publishing, a Virginia-based company that has sold fake international driver's licenses and other invalid identification cards in Arkansas.

The complaint filed Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court against Beraca and its owner, Miguel Lazarte, states that the company sells what it calls "International Driver's Licenses" and "U.S. ID Cards" to Arkansas consumers. Though the cards appear to consumers to be official, they are not legal identification and have not been approved by any government entity.

"Beraca and Lazarte are targeting Arkansas consumers who are unfamiliar with official identification cards," McDaniel said. "The company is intentionally misleading purchasers regarding the source, approval and certification of these cards. Consumers who attempt to use one of these documents could even face criminal penalties for driving without a license."

Beraca advertises the unofficial ID cards on the Internet and in a Hispanic publication called Periodico Hechos, a periodical distributed throughout the United States in Spanish-speaking communities. Beraca's advertisements claim that the identification card is valid in all 50 states, can serve as a secondary form of identification, and will provide holders with useful information on federal laws. Lazarte has sold the fraudulent driving documents for $100 each and ID cards for $40 each.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. State Department has authorized only two organizations to issue International Driver's Permits in the United States: the American Automobile Association and the National Automobile Club. These organizations are permitted to provide permits only to residents who have a valid driver's license issued by a U.S. state or territory. These permits are not a substitute for an actual license.

The complaint alleges that the company and Lazarte have violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and requests the company be ordered to immediately cease its illegal business practices in the state. Additionally, the complaint asks for restitution and civil penalties.