The agency in charge of keeping our roads safe is also hard at work keeping your identity safe.
"We care about people's safety not just on the roads but their identity as well, as we are the agency that issues state ID cards," said ADOT spokesman Ryan Harding.
It's an arm of ADOT that is not as visible as the patrols you see on the highways. The enforcement and compliance division under the Office of the Inspector General has detectives working to catch those who want to steal your good name.
The agency uses facial recognition technology that scans your driver's license photo with millions of others in the database. As soon as your picture is in the system, the computer is constantly scanning for others who have the exact facial features as you. Those images are red-flagged by ADOT staff and turned over to detectives for further investigation.
"This year alone our detectives have brought dozens of cases forward using facial recognition technology to catch identity thieves. Several of the victims lived outside Arizona," said Harding.
ADOT is highlighting two recent arrests.
Robert Chalue of Surprise, who had been using the identity of a Maine resident for more than 15 years. The victim ended up facing credit problems and traffic tickets that were not his. The investigation led detectives to Chalue’s home, where they arrested him along with several identifying documents belonging to the victim. Chalue is facing multiple counts of forgery and identity theft.
In June, ADOT detectives busted Phoenix resident Terry Lee Rice for allegedly stealing 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.
“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.”
MVD clerks are the first line of defense. They are trained to look for discrepancies in driver’s license applications.
ADOT’s Office of Inspector General investigates fraud involving driver’s 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.