By Jeff Nagel / Black Press
Facial recognition technology is helping ICBC bust identity thieves who try to gain driver’s licences – sometimes to dodge driving bans and in other cases to illegally stay in Canada.
The public auto insurer compares a card holder’s image with their existing image on file and millions of others in the database.
The system analyzes fixed facial features, such cheekbone size and location and distance between eyes.
More than 600 cases have been sent to ICBC’s fraud investigators since the technology was adopted two years ago.
“Facial recognition technology has taken us to a new level in protecting our customers,” ICBC driver licensing vice-president Fred Hess said.
“We’re now at the forefront of identity protection.”
The facial recognition technology last year helped detect Surrey resident Sandeep Dhillon, who applied for a new licence in Richmond under the identity of another man, Jatinder Kumar.
Federal authorities determined Dhillon was an illegal immigrant who had previously been deported for organized crime activity. He was arrested and deported again in December.
Another man in Nanaimo got a bogus licence in the name of a dead man to dodge his criminal record, parole restrictions and unpaid debt to ICBC. He pleaded guilty in December and was fined $5,000. That case was flagged because the same face was found connected to two different licences.
Another case in Kelowna saw a woman caught trying to get a licence in her sister’s name after losing her licence for impaired driving.
Even cases where identities were assumed long ago are now being uncovered.
A Penticton man had for 15 years used the identity of a boy who died at age five in 1969 before the new system detected his fraud, which allowed him to dodge his criminal record and collect welfare while working. He was ordered to pay $13,000 in restitution.
“Facial recognition technology is now enabling security checks that were not previously possible and helping to uncover fraud that would not have come to light without it,” said Ben Shotton, ICBC’s manager of driver licensing integrity.
“It’s unlikely that any of these charges and convictions would have happened without facial recognition technology.”
ICBC spends $8 million a year on thousands of fraud investigations.