Ritchie commends use of facial recognition tech in finding fraud - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Ritchie commends use of facial recognition tech in finding fraud

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Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is commending the Department of Public Safety for successfully using facial recognition technology to identify 24,000 potentially fraudulent drivers licenses -- including one belonging to an employee in his office.

The FOX 9 Investigators first covered the use of the new technology on Sunday after nearly 10,000 drivers licenses were canceled due to potential fraud. On Monday, an indictment was unsealed that revealed one of the licenses flagged by the technology belonged to a 53-year-old woman who has spent seven years working in the Secretary of State's office as an administrative assistant.

Ritchie's office clarified that Oluremi George, who has been accused of using the identity Victoria Ayoola, was hired and promoted by previous Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer. Now, office personnel say they are cooperating fully with the Washington County attorney in the continuing investigation.

On Tuesday, Ritchie released the following statement about the technology's use and the identity fraud case that is now under way. It can be read in its entirety below:

"The Office of the Secretary of State today congratulated the Department of Public Safety and the United States Department of Homeland Security for their successful use of advanced facial recognition technology to investigate and prosecute identity fraud. New digital tools, many that have become available only recently, now make it possible to review every driver's license and state ID issued by the State of Minnesota to find individuals attempting to use false identification documents for illegal purposes.

"The successful use of new technology to identify individuals who have fraudulently obtained Minnesota State government issued identification, including driver's licenses, permits and state ID cards, protects the integrity of the Department of Public Safety's database that our agency, and many other public and private sector agencies and companies depend on, " stated Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

One of the individuals indicted as a result of this digital review of the driver license database was Oluremi George, also known as Victoria Ayoola, a clerical employee of the Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State in the Business Services division. As a part of her employment she does not have access to non-public files or information. Under former Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, she was first employed on July 11, 2005 as a temporary Office Specialist and was promoted by Secretary Kiffmeyer to a permanent position as an Office and Administrative Specialist on June 22, 2006.

"As soon as the indictment was unsealed, the Office took immediate steps to ensure that all of our systems were protected," explained Ritchie. "Yesterday, this Office provided information to the Washington County attorney regarding Ms. George using her false government issued driver's license to register to vote and vote in 2004 and 2008, which would be additional felony violations of state law."

An investigation of this employee is ongoing."

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