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N.J. Motor Vehicles Goes High-Tech to Detect False Driver's Licenses

license_optAttorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa and Motor Vehicle Commission Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez joined today to announce initial results of a new high-tech facial recognition program “Operation Facial Scrub” used to detect individuals who obtained New Jersey driver’s licenses using false identities. More than 600 potential criminal cases have been referred to the Attorney General, who announced a first wave of 38 criminal prosecutions.

In December 2011, the Motor Vehicle Commission (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 19 million photo record database to identify any duplicative photo 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 so they can pursue other cases of fraud.

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. This ensures that attempted fraud will be identified and stopped quickly.

“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 from other states. 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.”

“Our first 38 criminal prosecutions in Operation Facial Scrub include truck and bus drivers who have no business being on our roadways and registered sex offenders who tried to hide their criminal pasts,” said Director Stephen J. Taylor of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work with the Motor Vehicle Commission and our law enforcement partners to detect and aggressively prosecute criminals who obtain licenses using false identities.”

 

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