PHOENIX — Expertise and facial-recognition technology employed by Arizona Department of Transportation detectives safeguard the personal information of not only Arizonans but those in other states who are targeted by identity thieves here.
Two cases brought by ADOT’s Office of Inspector General highlight these efforts:
In September, detectives investigating fraud involving a motor vehicle record found that Robert Chalue of Surprise had been using the identity of a Maine resident for more than 15 years, resulting in the victim facing credit problems and traffic tickets that weren’t his. The investigation led detectives to Chalue’s home, where they apprehended him along with several identifying documents belonging to the victim. Chalue is facing multiple counts of forgery and identity theft.
In June, ADOT detectives determined that Terry Lee Rice of Phoenix stole the identity of a Georgia man and used it to obtain an Arizona identification card. Their investigation found that Rice used the stolen identity for years to hide from violent crimes committed in Illinois, Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida, where he faced an extraditable felony warrant. With the help of the Phoenix Police Department, ADOT detectives located Rice, who was booked for the felony warrant plus six additional felony counts related to fraudulently obtaining the Arizona credential.
Facial-recognition technology allows checks against customer records in the state’s driver license database, preventing fraudulent attempts to obtain driver licenses or identification cards. In addition to the work by ADOT detectives, customer service representatives in ADOT’s Motor Vehicle Division are trained to detect forgery and fraud when they perform the first checks for discrepancies in application packets.
At least seven of the dozens of identity-theft cases brought this year by ADOT detectives have involved victims beyond Arizona.
“We know the value of keeping your identity intact, so we take identity theft seriously,” said Michael Lockhart, chief of ADOT’s Office of Inspector General. “Facial-recognition technology helps our detectives take identity thieves off the street and keep the identities of residents of Arizona and other states safe.”
ADOT’s Office of Inspector General investigates fraud involving driver license and identification card applications; vehicle sales by licensed and unlicensed dealers; and vehicle titles and registration. It also assists state, local and federal law enforcement agencies with investigations.