Face recognition software leads to charges against Wildwood man

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A Wildwood man was charged Feb. 1 with using another’s identity to get a New Jersey driver’s license while his was suspended, according to the Attorney General’s office.

Nestor Seda, 50, was one of 38 defendants charged in a sweep conducted by the Attorney General and Motor Vehicle Commission. On Feb. 12, the departments announced the results of “operation facial scrub,” which used facial recognition software to comb through the MVC’s records.

“Operation facial scrub,” according to a release, was used to detect individuals who obtained New Jersey driver’s licenses using false identities. By using facial recognition technology, the MVC began a full “scrub” of its 19-million-photo record database to identify any duplicate photo records that may indicate administrative errors or customer fraud, the release explained.

The Attorney General called the 38 charges announced this week the first wave of criminal prosecutions, with more cases possible.

One of the 38, Seda, was indicted Feb. 1 and charged with using personal identifying information of another, a second-degree crime, and tampering with public record, a third-degree crime. At the time, his license was suspended, the release alleges.

Throughout 2012, MVC security began to analyze the results of the scrub. To date, more than 600,000 matches have been reviewed and internal action taken when warranted, according to the release. Of those, approximately 1,800 suspension cases were identified, which required customers to re-verify their identities with the MVC. Administrative suspensions were imposed on 146 individuals for misstatements of identification, the release states.

The MVC has referred 669 potential criminal cases to the Attorney General’s Office, according to the release. These cases will be the subject of further investigations and potential prosecutions by the Division of Criminal Justice, the New Jersey State Police and the 21 county prosecutors’ offices, the release states.

The 38 defendants charged by the Attorney General’s Office include five sex offenders and 29 individuals who allegedly obtained fraudulent licenses after their real licenses had been suspended, the release states. Of the defendants with suspended licenses, 22 had been charged with intoxicated driving offenses, including 11 who had three or more DUI offenses. Eight of the cases involve the use of false identities to obtain commercial driver’s licenses to drive trucks or buses.  According to the release, the cases also include several defendants who owed child support or were ineligible for a New Jersey driver's license.

The second-degree charges against Seda carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while the third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a $15,000 fine. 

A full list of the 38 defendants is posted with the release at www.njpublicsafety.com.

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