‘Operation Facial Scrub’ collars 38 suspected of using false IDs to get N.J. licenses

New Jersey is using a new facial recognition system to detect people who obtain driver’s licenses using false identities.

In what it calls “Operation Facial Scrub,” the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission is using the technology to search its 19 million photo-record database to identity duplicate photos that indicate fraud.

How it works

“It is measurements on things on your face that essentially you cannot change or you’d have to go to extremely great lengths to do that,” says Ray Martinez, chief administrator of the Motor Vehicle Commission. “A beard is not going to do that. A mustache is not going to do that. A change on your hair style is not going to do that.”

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Individuals are caught if a photo on an existing New Jersey driver’s license is associated with another name in the system when they attempt to obtain another license.

In the first wave of prosecutions, criminal charges have been filed against 38 suspects.

Attorney General Jeff Chiesa says eight of those cases involve the use of false identities to obtain commercial licenses to drive trucks or buses.

“When you hear about folks with multiple DUI convictions, sex offenders who are able to get licenses to operate those school buses and, quite frankly, licenses to continue to drive on our roads, it certainly is a stark reminder that this is the kind of thing that we need to be putting assets in,” he said Tuesday.

Chiesa says the technology also has the potential to uncover other types of crimes including identity theft, financial fraud and terrorism.

The program began after the Sept. 11 attacks to make it harder for people to obtain fraudulent documents and heighten security.

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