By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
So instead of keeping his head down and working through his legal problems, Havard hit SMU and created a scheme that would eclipse all the others: selling high-quality fake drivers licenses.
The "Hilltop Scholars" would debate the issue among themselves. Having a counterfeit ID wasn't really wrong, they reasoned. Drinking in college was a rite of passage. If they got caught, the police would just confiscate the fakes.
Meghan, however, was nervous. "My dad's an attorney," she says. "If I got arrested, he'd leave me in jail." By early September, when only a few holdouts in Perkins didn't have fake IDs, Meghan and Rachel, her new best friend, inquired about Havard's product.
Low-key but proud, Havard promised the IDs were "next to perfect," and the magnetic strip on the back would even "scan" if swiped.
Meghan scraped together $175 and knocked on his door.
Havard's room had space for a sofa and two twin beds. Since he had no roommate, Havard also had two closets at his disposal. Meghan noticed that the room was stuffed with electronics: In addition to several computers, Havard had a huge flat-screen TV, camera equipment, a scanner, a printer and, in the closets, VCRs and PlayStations, still boxed.
Explaining that he'd bought a special printer from Europe and templates for both Texas and California licenses off the Internet, Havard draped the blue felt backdrop over his closet door. After taking Meghan's picture, he showed it on the screen of his computer against the Texas template. Later, he would input her information along with bar code information from a stolen license.
One "co-worker" would later describe Havard's operation to SMU police: Havard or a crony would do the digital work on a Dell 8000 series laptop computer, "with a removable USB hard drive with a strong encryption program to protect the data. He also had a magnetic encoder." The license templates were on a removable hard drive that could be disposed of fast with a program called "Best Crypt," which used a free but powerful encryption scheme called "Blowfish." The licenses would be printed and "sanded" off-campus. Havard carried around a stainless steel clipboard that opened up and contained forms for customers to fill out.
A day or two later, Havard gave Meghan and several other girls their IDs. "It looked very much like my real license," Meghan says. "He was pretty confident about his product." The girls tested the licenses at a liquor store: They worked just fine.
Through October, Meghan's phone calls home were enthusiastic. She and her roommate got along well, often doing things with the girls across the hall, Rachel and her roommate.
"We had a lot in common," says Rachel, self-acknowledged "gossip queen" of Perkins. "Meghan wasn't wild, but she had a fun side." Havard started hanging out with Meghan and her friends. To some it looked like Havard was sweet on Meghan, but he didn't ask her out. Ironically, the budding crime boss seemed insecure around women.
Meghan says Havard delighted in gaming the system, even for small change; he regaled listeners with his discovery of how to program swipe cards so he could steal Cokes from machines at the school. But there were hints at bigger operations. During one dorm conversation, according to an SMU police statement, Havard boasted that he'd just driven a Dodge Viper belonging to a man who'd paid him $400 each for counterfeit licenses for himself, his wife and another relative. "And he's probably gonna call me because he needed to have 20 to 40 more made for his drivers and workers."
Perkins residents started calling Havard "Sketchy" because, as one student would tell SMU police, "he was into sketchy stuff."
His reputation spread across campus. Though Havard rarely drank and claimed he didn't use drugs, it was widely known that he could get marijuana, Ecstasy, coke, pretty much anything. There was one hilarious incident early in September when some guys bought damp pot, allegedly from Havard. As they attempted to dry it in the microwave, the stuff caught on fire, filling Perkins with an unmistakable stench.
If he was looking for customers, Havard was in the right place. "I never thought I was sheltered until I came to SMU," Alison Elrod says. "I learned a bunch of stuff about college life that I didn't know about. Thursday is like the beginning of the weekend. That's when all the parties start." Another female student, now at a different college, agrees: "Perkins was supposed to be the small dorm with quiet hours," she says. "It was probably the craziest bunch of people. I got tired of it; people would get mad at you if you didn't want to go out."
Unable to meet demand, Havard began recruiting subcontractors. He was, after all, a business major. He found willing workers on the second floor. Some he paid cash; others he tempted with gift certificates to A&F, digital cameras, laptops and other goodies. The RAs were rarely around or unable to see what was going on right under their noses.
"Everyone seemed out of control with the making and selling of IDs," says Rachel, who didn't get involved. "It surprised me. People in the dorm were so money-hungry." Visitors to Havard's room would often see stacks of $100 bills on a table. When Rachel asked Havard why he ran the counterfeiting scam, he replied, "Because I can."