Press Release - 08-17-2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 17, 2015
Mairin Bellack [email protected]
FIRST EVER INTER-STATE USE OF FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY LEADS TO ARRESTS OF THREE COMMERCIAL DRIVERS FOR IDENTIFICATION FRAUD
New York and New Jersey are the First Two States to Share Motor Vehicle Photos to Combat Identity Theft and Increase Traffic Safety
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (NY DMV) Executive Deputy Commissioner Terri Egan and New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (NJ MVC) Chief Administrator Raymond Martinez today announced the arrests of three individuals for filing false instruments and falsifying business records, both of which are felonies. New York and New Jersey are the first two motor vehicle agencies in the nation to share photographs for use in their respective facial recognition systems. These three arrests mark the first time ever that two state motor vehicle agencies have cooperatively used facial recognition technology to combat license fraud and identity theft across state lines. The two states initiated this pilot in response to a number of serious crashes throughout the country involving Commercial Driver License (CDL) drivers that possessed multiple licenses issued by different states.
Facial recognition technology allows investigators to compare a single digitized photograph against an entire image database to determine if there is another photograph of the individual in the database. This cooperative effort between NY DMV and NJ MVC sought to determine if any commercial drivers licensed in one state also possessed driving privileges in another.
“NY DMV continues to employ the latest technology to combat fraud and achieve our goal of ‘one driver, one record’,” said NY DMV Executive Deputy Commissioner Egan. “Our facial recognition program deters fraud, combats identity theft, and, most importantly, enhances public safety by removing driving privileges from those individuals seeking to avoid responsibility for their conduct. By sharing license photographs with NJ MVC we are using this technology to identify CDL holders attempting to exploit the individual state licensing process to evade traffic tickets, commit insurance fraud and/or avoid driver responsibility assessments.”
“New Jersey has a zero tolerance policy for those who attempt to use fraud when applying for a driver’s license,” said NJ MVC Chief Administrator Martinez. “Commercial driver’s license (CDL) applications require special scrutiny because of the higher degree of responsibility attached to CDL holders. New York and New Jersey continue to work closely to ensure that the strict policies and procedures that both states have developed to weed out fraud and abuse and protect public safety are maintained. Our joint goal is to ensure that there is only one record for each driver in our respective motor vehicle databases and to protect the integrity and security of our driver’s licensing procedures.”
The three individuals arrested possessed licenses in both New York and New Jersey under different names, dates of birth and social security numbers.
One of the individuals arrested goes by the name of Sekoudit G. Sidibe in New Jersey and Sidibe D. Sekou in New York. This individual had a valid New Jersey CDL Class A license with Hazmat Endorsements while having a suspended driver license in New York State. Mr. Sekou, 53, of Bronx, NY, was arrested and charged in Manhattan with one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing – 1st Degree (PL 175.35), a Class E Felony, and one count of Falsifying Business Records – 1st Degree (PL 175.10), a Class E Felony.
Another arrestee, Magdy H. Elsheimy, 60, of Ridgefield Park, NJ, had a valid CDL Class C driver license in New Jersey. He also had a valid Class E driver license in New York under the name of Magdy Moustafa. While both licenses were valid at the time of arrest, it was found that this individual was splitting convictions and tickets between records. The subject was arrested and charged in Manhattan with one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing – 1st Degree (PL 175.35), a Class E Felony, and one count of Falsifying Business Records – 1st Degree (PL 175.10), a Class E Felony.
A third arrestee, Jhon M. Gomez, 40, of New York, NY had his license suspended in New Jersey after being convicted of a DWI. Before the suspension took effect, he obtained a CDL license in New York under the same name and made false statements that he had never been suspended in any state in the country. The subject was arrested and charged in Albany County with one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing – 1st Degree (PL 175.35) a Class E Felony.
NYS DMV and NJ MVC investigators worked with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations to make these arrests. Additional arrests, based on this innovative inter-state facial recognition pilot program are anticipated in the near future. It should be noted that any charges are merely an accusation and that the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Based on data gathered by State University of New York’s Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), drivers with multiple license records are far more likely than all licensed drivers to be involved in a crash (66.5 percent vs. 42.6 percent) and to be convicted of traffic-related violations. Among the individuals identified as having multiple license records, 50 percent are suspended or revoked under at least one name.
“Facial recognition has greatly enhanced our investigators’ ability to deter identity theft and identify subjects committing fraud,” said NY DMV’s Director of the Division of Field Investigations Owen McShane. “This technology helps make our roadways safer by removing dangerous drivers who should not be on the road.”
Since NY DMV began using facial recognition technology in 2010 more than 3,500 individuals have been arrested for possessing multiple licenses. Already this month, DMV investigators have arrested 11 individuals who were identified via facial recognition for having two or more New York licenses. Individuals who are arrested based on facial recognition matches are typically charged with filing a false instrument, tampering with public records, and forgery. In New York State, anyone convicted of a felony faces a minimum of one year in jail. NY DMV has found that many of the individuals possessing two or more licenses are also engaged in other crimes such as credit card fraud, benefit fraud and identity theft schemes.