Identity Theft from 1965 Uncovered through Face Recognition

Interesting story:

Napoleon Gonzalez, of Etna, assumed the identity of his brother in 1965, a quarter century after his sibling’s death as an infant, and used the stolen identity to obtain Social Security benefits under both identities, multiple passports and state identification cards, law enforcement officials said.


A new investigation was launched in 2020 after facial identification software indicated Gonzalez’s face was on two state identification cards.

The facial recognition technology is used by the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles to ensure no one obtains multiple credentials or credentials under someone else’s name, said Emily Cook, spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office.

Posted on August 29, 2023 at 7:03 AM12 Comments


Ted August 29, 2023 8:30 AM

In 2021 testimony re: the regulation of facial recognition tech, Maine’s Sec of State appears to identify BMV’s vendor as Idemia.

The software runs two basic screening processes to identify potential fraud.

Shoshana Zuboff also provided testimony for the public hearing.

Clive Robinson August 29, 2023 8:56 AM

@ Ted,

It’s worth reading the second page of the testimony you link to, as it indicates it appears the software or the method or both have quite a high false positive rate that “needs to be cleared” by staff on a daily basis.

disocchuck August 29, 2023 9:31 AM

“It’s worth reading the second page of the testimony you link to, as it indicates it appears the software or the method or both have quite a high false positive rate that “needs to be cleared” by staff on a daily basis.”

Let me guess.. that bit from pg 2 that was written by staff?


What August 29, 2023 10:49 AM

But in my experience Facial recognition is mostly useless in accurately confirming that the person in a 10 year old photo ID is the same person in today’s selfie.

In the case of this story I think the Facial recognition was comparing two ID photos which were not taken far apart in time, which is the easiest task for Facial Recognition to do with less errors.

Name August 29, 2023 11:04 AM

I think for passport control we should use finger prints not facial recognition. Facial recognition is error-ridden so much I wonder why we bother using it at all.

Ted August 29, 2023 11:28 AM


”needs to be cleared” by staff on a daily basis.

Yes, it’d be interesting to see the lead metrics.

Idemia reported that it’s 1:N (one-to-many) algorithm achieved an accuracy score of 99.88%, ranking it #1 in a NIST face recognition vendor test (FRVT).

At this point, I don’t know what algorithms Maine’s BMV may be using.

It’s curious that twins might be flagged, but then can be “noted in the system and they will no longer match in the future.”

It makes me wonder if users can adjust the detection sensitivity to minimize false negatives or allow opportunities for further human review.

vas pup August 29, 2023 4:46 PM

Kind of related to the subject

With new technology, researchers find mass grave of Jews murdered by Nazis in Latvia

“JTA — A mass grave of Jews killed by the Nazis has been identified in Latvia following decades of searching.

Separately, the body of a World War II Jewish resistance fighter buried in a mass grave has been identified in the Netherlands.

=>The grave in Latvia was located using technology created by American researchers, LTV News Service reported Wednesday. It holds the bodies of dozens of Jews murdered by the Nazis in July 1941 in the western Latvian city of Liepaja. The massacre, one of a series of Nazi mass murders of thousands of Jews in the area over the course of that year, was filmed by German soldier Reinhard Wiener, and the footage survived the war.

This summer, a team of students and researchers led by Harry Jol and Martin Goettl from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and Philip Reeder from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, were invited to Liepaja to search for the grave.

=>Using soil sampling and georadar analysis, they were able to locate the mass burial site from 82 years ago.

“There are historical maps that we can compare with our data and see changes in the soil layers,” Jol told Latvian Public Media. “We can use the dendrological method, determined by the age of trees. There is also a relatively new technique for soils — optically stimulated luminescence dating.”

Ilya Lensky, director of the Museum of Jews in Latvia, told LTV News Service that he believes the site should be marked as a memorial to honor the Jews who died there.

Gunars Ansins, the mayor of Liepaja, said that discussions are ongoing in the municipal council to address what to do with the site.

In the Netherlands, the body of Jewish resistance hero Bernard Luza was also identified in a mass grave, according to a statement from the Dutch Defense Ministry published on Tuesday. Luza was executed by firing squad in 1943, when he was 39, after he and hundreds of Jews were arrested following a raid on a factory in Amsterdam the previous year. Luza was a member of the Dutch Communist Party and People’s Militia, and joined the resistance after the Nazi takeover of the Netherlands in May 1940. He was accused
of distributing an illegal newspaper and encouraging acts of sabotage.

=>“Now, through the use of DNA technology employed in a relationship study, his remains were finally identified,” said Geert Jonker, head of the ministry’s forensic unit specializing in identifying human remains, according to Agence France-Presse. According to the ministry statement, the ministry ascertained Luza’s identity !!! after a cousin
of his was identified in Australia.”

Clive Robinson August 29, 2023 9:13 PM

@ Ted,

Re : Twins.

“It makes me wonder if users can adjust the detection sensitivity to minimize false negatives or allow opportunities for further human review.”

I suspect the easiest thing to do is have a “filter” that if either a twin –or more– is spotted it checks to see if the ID is already flagged. If so, just drop it from the “these are odd” “lead list”, or send it for specific verification.

One curiosity that happens more in the US than most other places are twins seperated at birth / early age and get adopted and get given not just new ID’s but never know they had such a sibling untill records are legaly unsealed (which I gather can be stopped by protest).

Apparently twins can also be found by behaviour rather than bio-metrics. This should be taken with a grain or three of salt, but apparently studies have shown that nature rather than nurture can be a strong determiner of adult behaviour[1]. That is identical twins seperated at birth or shortly in to their first year grow up with very similar behaviour traits even though their adoptive parents are quite different. Further a high degree of similarity in other socio economic measures including the types of partners/mates they select[2]. Apparently this is also true to a lesser extent for same sex non identical twins (which suggests there may be study issues).

[1] I’m quite skeptical of this not because I believe in nurture over nature, but because more and more of such published results have in more recent times been called into question. That is they started off being noted as “unrepeatable” and later even suspect, and later some were shown to be questionable to beyond the point of being withdrawn from journals, so “Use a piece of salt the size of Lott’s wife” etc.

[2] Apparently it’s been noted that twins marry twins rather more than two or more siblings in one family marying siblings in another family based on their relative frequency[3]. Which only becomes an issue with the next generation where cousins are effectively brothers and sisters genetically.

[3] The figures in different countries are measured in different ways so a grain of salt is required. However in the US according to the National Center for Health Statistics, for “twin births” the rate has risen 70% since 1980, and is now 32.6 per 1,000 live births. However in the UK it’s risen by 1/3rd in the same period for “multiple births” to 14.4 per 1000. The increase is put down to IVF and the increasing age of mothers causing multiple fertilized eggs. Thus the incidence of multiple births increases but the overall birthrate is dropping in both the UK and US as more and more women put of motherhood untill further into their thirties rather than their twenties.

Ezequiel August 31, 2023 6:34 AM

As long as (benefit of catching identity thief) > (cost of manual review) / (1 – (false positive rate)), this saves money. For example: a bureaucrat costs 20 $/h and can check (and fill all paperwork) for 10 pairs of pictures in one hour. Manual review costs 2$. Every 10000 pictures he catches one thief. Then catching a thief costs 20000 $. If the amount saved by catching them is higher, then this is great! And this does not need to be just government money saved, it can also include bank, store, eBay chick money not swindled by the thief.

ResearcherZero September 8, 2023 7:00 AM

The general idea of such technologies should be to assist, rather than replace the work of humans. False identification has long been a problem, sometimes quite deliberately.

But we would like to apologise for strip searching or tasering you following your mistakenly incorrect identification.

…At the airport

“In Manchester, England, people are learning of new requirements to submit face biometrics to board flights to elsewhere in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Travelers on international flights transferring planes in the UK also will have to surrender a facial image.”


…the football

“A robot security dog (DroneDog) equipped with cameras and facial recognition is about to prowl a sporting venue in the United States.”


…And that other time you were on your way home from work.

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