Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has investigated 13,000 possible cases of identity fraud since facial recognition technology was implemented three years ago. These investigations have resulted in more than 2,500 arrests and more than 5,000 individuals facing administrative action.
“DMV’s effective use of facial recognition technology shows how our state government is progressing with a 21st century world to work for New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “Through this program, we are successfully taking dangerous drivers off our roads, helping to track down criminals, and protecting taxpayer dollars sending a clear message that New York State does not tolerate identity fraud and those who try will be caught.”
“We have seen extraordinary results from the use of facial recognition technology,” said DMV Commissioner Barbara J. Fiala. “I commend our Division of Field Investigation (DFI) unit on the implementation of this technology which helps assure that attempts at identity fraud for any reason are deterred.”
“Facial recognition technology has been an extremely valuable tool for our investigators in combating identity theft,” said the DMV’s Director of Field Investigations Owen McShane. “This initiative has not only helped to make the state’s highways safer but also identified many individuals who attempted to commit fraud at taxpayer expense.”
In February 2010, DMV implemented facial recognition software, which is used to help identify individuals who attempt to obtain more than one driver license or non-driver identification document. Those seeking a second identity document may do so for a number of reasons including evading license suspensions, stealing an identity, committing financial fraud or presenting a false identity to law enforcement or transportation security officials. Facial recognition is also used to verify that a person renewing a license or changing a license class is the same person who was originally issued the license. The system is designed to advance DMV’s goals of ensuring “one driver, one license” and improving highway safety.
Facial recognition software converts DMV’s digital, facial photographs into mathematical algorithms. Trained staff runs the software which matches photo images that have been identified as having similar algorithms. This review includes new photos taken each day at the DMV, as well as approximately 20 million photographs already in DMV’s database. DMV strives to issue each applicant only one identity document. A license or non-driver ID associated with a new photo will not be produced until any photo identified as a potential match is reviewed by trained staff. Seeking a second identity document is a crime since it requires submission of a false instrument.
The University at Albany’s Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) assisted the DMV in evaluating the driving records for subjects identified as having two or more licenses since this project began and found:
- Approximately 50 percent of the subjects identified through facial recognition had one valid NYS license while having a second record that was suspended or revoked.
- Approximately 20 percent of the subjects identified through facial recognition were suspended or revoked under every known record.
- Approximately 30 percent of the subjects identified through facial recognition had multiple valid licenses.
The evaluation also included a comparison of the driving histories of the individuals identified via facial recognition against the rest of the state’s driver license population and found:
- 63 percent had been involved in a crash, compared to 42 percent of all licensed drivers in the state.
- 9 percent had been convicted of impaired driving, compared to 2 percent of all licensed drivers in the state.
- 29 percent had been convicted of a cell phone violation, compared to 9 percent of all licensed drivers in the state.
- 46 percent had been convicted of unlicensed operation, compared to 7 percent of all licensed drivers in the state.
- 56 percent had been convicted of a seat belt violation, compared to 21 percent of all licensed drivers in the state.
- 35 percent had accumulated six or more points on their license records within an 18-month period at some point in time after November 18, 2004, compared to 11 percent of all licensed drivers in the state.
DMV’s facial recognition program resulted in felony arrests, which have included:
During the past three years, DMV identified over 100 individuals who had active felony warrants under one license record and established a new New York State ID under an alternate name that was warrant free. One of these subjects was a fugitive for 17 years after robbing a bank in Nassau County in 1993.
- Two subjects who were on the terrorist watch list obtained additional licenses under new names that were “clear.”
- A woman who was arrested had a valid Class D driver license under one name, date of birth and Social Security number as well as a non-driver ID under another name, date of birth and Social Security number. The investigation revealed this woman had collected a total of $525,000 in fraudulent benefits from the Social Security Administration and the New York State Insurance Fund. She has been charged with multiple felony counts.
- A man who was licensed and working as a CDL school bus driver in New York State under one name, date of birth and Social Security number also had a non-driver ID under another name and date of birth that had multiple open suspensions for unpaid tickets, as well as narcotics convictions and suspensions of his license privileges for narcotics transactions. The subject was arrested under multiple felony charges and is no longer operating a school bus.
- A subject who was arrested had a valid New York State driver license under one name, date of birth and Social Security number. He had a second state driver license under another name and date of birth that had been revoked since 2003 for a DWI conviction. He also had a third license under a different name and date of birth that was suspended for an unresolved DWI arrest and six unpaid moving violations fines. He had a fourth record with yet a different name and date of birth that was created for a court-ordered suspension after the subject was arrested. The subject was arrested on multiple felony charges. His records have been combined and his license privileges have been revoked.