Fake, universal press credentials – worthless or dangerous?

The online ads for universal press credentials show up on many websites. “Gain Access to Sports, Entertainment and Breaking News Events,” touts the ads by an outfit called “US Press Corps.” Just give them $81 and ANYONE can get a fake I.D. as a “photojournalist, journalist, and more …”

Fake press credentials – worthless or dangerous?

One alleged member named Greg Coats bragged in the ad, “Imagine me … up clost (sic) to President Obama and Air Force One, thanks to IFPO US Press Corps Credentials.” There is no way, of course, to verify such a claim but there are “multiple levels of screening” of anyone who gets in close proximity to the President or any other officials, a federal law enforcement spokesman told me.

“IFPO,” by the way, stands for International Freelance Photographers Association, one of many names apparently intended to sound credible and prestigious by the company, US Press Corps.

These alleged press credentials are “no different than any fake I.D. used by someone, such as an illegal alien,” the federal law enforcement official told me. Regardless of the so-called press pass, it is the person who is screened carefully.

The highly respected National Press Photographers Association told me, “There is no such thing as universal press passes.” NPPA’s lawyers look into reports of phony photojournalist credentials. NPPA had never heard of US Press Corps, the outfit selling online press passes.

US Press Corps claims to be located in Hamptonville or Lewisville, North Carolina, according to their domain registration. The street addresses listed by the company do not exist. Such details – which appear in WhoIs at Godaddy – are supposed to be accurate or the domain can be subject to being revoked … if anyone complains.

By listing bogus street addresses and other inaccurate information when registering a domain name, the “organization” or person behind US Press Corps could actually be located anywhere in the world, and just plying on wannabe news people in the U.S.

“Talk about diluting the value of professional photographers, this takes the cake. (And you can be a lifetime member for only $81…),” laments a Pulitzer Prize winning and former White House photographer.

The Internet has opened up whole new cottage businesses for selling many kinds of official-looking licenses and certificates. Federal and local law enforcement authorities frown on any type of fake credential. But, the issue of phony press passes gets to a deeper level of security, I believe. When might a terrorist or person of violent intent use such a pass to gain access to do harm.

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5 Enlightened Replies

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  1. David says:

    Ah this could save you a fortune at events/conferences but would likely destroy your reputation if you knowingly used “fake” credentials at an event. The other sign of the coin is the people that are just not that switched on and may actually believe this could help them… I do think worthless is the likely answer.

    Also check the ad is CLOST a real word, or they making up new words also?It’s usually safe to avoid companies that misspell stuff in their advertising…

  2. Based on the fake photographs and biased stories that flooded the news about the recent Middle East conflict between Israel and Hamas, it would appear that there are more bogus press credentialed folks out their than we may have imagined. It is either that or the quality and ‘professionalism’ of journalism has truly diminished.
    From fake stories and photographs, to biased reporting, print and media journalism appears to be in a death spiral.

    • Dan says:

      Sorry Mr. Mondschein, fake media can’t get away with that stuff in Israel. The poor journalism is just that. The real journalists just suck at their job.

  3. Could you please tell us who is a legitimate press credicial organization that publications can trust?

    • Stefanee,

      Legitimate press credentials are issued by many local, state and federal organizations. For example, Washington, DC, police issue press credentials to legitimate working journalists. The White House has its own credential process.

      I’m not sure where you are located but my suggestion is to start with the local police or sheriff’s department and ask. You might also call a local newspaper and ask.

      I hope that helps.

      David

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