‘Operation Facial Scrub’ to Detect False Driver’s Licenses


Initial results of a new high-tech facial recognition program, “Operation Facial Scrub,” were announced on Tuesday by Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez.

The technology can detect driver’s licenses that use false identities.

In December 2011, the MVC embarked on Operation Facial Scrub, one of its most promising fraud prevention initiatives.  Utilizing facial recognition technology, the MVC began a full “scrub” of its database of 19 million photo records to identify any duplicative records that may indicate administrative errors or customer fraud.

Throughout 2012, MVC security professionals began to analyze the results of the scrub.

To date, more than 600,000 matches have been reviewed and internal action taken when warranted. Of those, approximately 1,800 suspension cases were identified, which required customers to re-verify their identities with the MVC. Administrative suspensions were imposed on 146 individuals for misstatements of identification. The MVC has referred 669 potential criminal cases to the Attorney General’s Office. Information on false licenses is also shared via a secure website with 22 state and federal partners.

In addition to scrubbing the 19 million photos in the system, the MVC is working diligently to maintain the integrity of the database through a nightly scrub of all new photos taken at its 39 agencies statewide.

 “A driver’s license is a powerful document that enables the holder to open financial accounts, obtain and drive motor vehicles, and board airplanes,” said Attorney General Chiesa. “We know the 9/11 terrorists had fraudulent licenses … By detecting individuals who have false licenses, law enforcement can potentially uncover other types of crime that these individuals may be involved in, including identity theft, financial fraud and even terrorism.”

“Those of us in business and government who regularly handle sensitive information always talk about weeding out fraud and abuse,” said MVC Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez. “This security tool really provides us with that extra edge to thoroughly comb through our records and identify everything from simple record errors to more egregious acts of fraud.”

Attorney General Chiesa Tuesday announced criminal charges filed by the Department of Criminal Justice against 38 people who fraudulently obtained additional driver’s licenses using false identities.

Each defendant was charged with use of personal identifying information of another, tampering with public records, and, in some cases, forgery.