Facial recognition software leads to arrest in fake ID probe

INDIANAPOLIS – Security measures at the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles led to the arrest of a man convicted in Illinois of forgery as he tried to establish a sixth fake identity in Indiana just months after his parole, the agency’s head said Tuesday.

Commissioner Andy Miller told a symposium on identity theft and fraud that a new facial recognition system installed at the BMV detected David Grice had obtained Indiana driver’s licenses under six names and addresses. He had been paroled in Illinois in December.

He was using his new Indiana credentials to open separate bank accounts under the various names, BMV said in a report issued Tuesday. A “wanted” poster with his six BMV photos and various names had been distributed to every license branch in the state.

Within 48 hours, Grice walked into a license branch in the central Indiana city of Crawfordsville, where a BMV employee spotted him and alerted security.

“The only way we caught this guy was through the facial recognition system,” Miller told a gathering of law enforcement officers on the state government campus.

The facial recognition system has spotted 463 discrepancies in photos so far in 2009, he said.

Grice was being held Tuesday at the Fountain County Jail in Covington on seven felony counts including fraud, Deputy BMV Commissioner Monty Combs said.

Grice has 13 Illinois convictions dating to 1981 for forgery, theft, writing bad checks and a prison weapons charge. The Associated Press was unable to locate an attorney for him.

Miller said Combs, a former Marion County prosecutor’s investigator who was the BMV’s chief financial officer, will head up a new Fraud and Security Enforcement Division within the agency.

The new division results from a restructuring within BMV and will not require any additional expenditures, said Miller, who took over the agency in January.

Gov. Mitch Daniels has proposed cutting the agency’s spending 11 percent under a revised state budget he presented to legislators on Tuesday.

“If anything, we’re hope to use this opportunity to find further efficiencies,” Miller said in an interview.

Many of the security upgrades at the agency — including the facial recognition system — are being driven and paid for by the federal government under the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission and federal rules on identification documents. Some of the Sept. 11 hijackers had obtained identification documents by fraud.

“The federal government has been very key over the last couple of years and even now in ensuring grant dollars are available for changes that really are a function of new federal law,” Miller said.

The facial recognition software requires that people seeking licenses or ID cards remove eyeglasses and not smile widely as the BMV takes their photographs. Indiana residents can expect to see more changes as the agency implements additional security steps.

“This is a constantly moving target,” Miller said. “The bad guys keep moving the ball down the field and we have to keep up with them.”

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-in-bmv-security,0,2758393.story

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