Last April, the FBI subpoenaed Carolyn A. Armwood and questioned her about $129,000 that had been fraudulently obtained from two banks by someone using a bogus driver's license with her name on it.
"I was shocked. They treated me just like anyone who might have been involved in the crime. I was photographed, fingerprinted and given a handwriting analysis test," recalled Mrs. Armwood, a federal government employee.
She was cleared after the FBI determined that the banks had been defrauded by a woman who had provided a bogus driver's license bearing Mrs. Armwood's name and address.
The identification had been obtained from an old license that Mrs. Armwood had relinquished to the Motor Vehicle Administration several months after marrying.
"You see things like this on television, but you never expect it to happen to you," Mrs. Armwood said. "It just seems as though there aren't enough checks at the MVA to keep this from happening to innocent people."
Five people were eventually arrested in connection with the bank scam and at least four of them had fraudulent driver's licenses, said Andrew S. Manning, an FBI spokesman. The driver's license used by one of the suspects carried Mrs. Armwood's maiden name and address, but it carried a picture of the suspect and the suspect's physical data.
"I turned in that license upon demand," Mrs. Armwood said, adding: "It seems like it would have taken someone who works there [at the MVA] to do this."
Recently, an MVA employee was suspended after investigators linked her to Dontay Carter, an accused killer who obtained two fraudulent driver's licenses at the MVA's Mondawmin office.
Following the stories about Carter, several other people have told The Sun that they were victimized by crooks who fraudulently obtained driver's licenses and MVA-issued identification cards.
W. Marshall Rickert, MVA administrator, said officials are continuing to investigate how Carter obtained fraudulent licenses. A final report on the investigation, which is being
conducted by MVA officials and city and state police, will be sent to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Mr. Rickert said.
Mr. Rickert maintains that the issuance of false licenses and identification cards is not a widespread problem at the MVA.
"We don't issue these documents casually," Mr. Rickert said. "They required two to three forms of identification. I think the system is reasonable and comprehensive. . . . It is the best until technology becomes available to provide the potential for tightening up the system."
In several of the instances reported to The Sun, bogus driver's licenses and identification cards have been obtained from MVA branch offices at Mondawmin and Glen Burnie.
They were issued even though the race and other physical characteristics of the applicant did not match information in the MVA computer.
A one instance, a person went to the MVA office in Glen Burnie in November 1990, identified himself as Gary R. Glaser of Pikesville, and said he needed to obtain a duplicate driver's license because the original was lost.
Mr. Glaser said he learned through inquiries that the clerk correctly noted that the applicant was black and he is white.
The applicant told the clerk that there must have been a computer error because he had possessed a driver's license since he was 16 years old, Mr. Glaser said.
Mr. Glaser said the clerk noted the race discrepancy on a file card, but approved the duplicate license.
The crook used the fraudulent license to drain $11,000 from Mr. Glaser's bank account.
"I have more trouble cashing a check than this guy," Mr. Glaser said.
When he asked the MVA what happened, he said, agency employees "acted like it happens every day. It was like 'what do you expect us to do?' "
He added: "I asked them why they didn't check the signature of the guy. You know what they said? 'It would take too long.' "
After viewing videos of the suspect during some of the transactions, the bank reimbursed Mr. Glaser's accounts, he said.
One department store that accepted the driver's license for identification allowed the man to walk out with $800 worth of tennis shoes, Mr. Glaser said.
He said he called another department store where he had an account and warned it of what had happened.
Despite the warning -- just a few days later -- the store gave the same man $1,500 worth of tennis shoes, he added.
Mr. Glaser said: "It is unbelievable that someone can wield so much power with a driver's license. What I went through, Woody Allen could make a movie out of."