So how much of a prison sentence should you get when you not only help people obtain unlawfully produced driver’s licenses, but also provide this service exclusively to criminals? We’ve got double the trouble here, as a New Hampshire dynamic duo teamed up to provide some helping hands to those “in need” and marked in stone the largest corruption case in New Hampshire history in today’s “Fraud of the Day” from UnionLeader.com.
The article reports that in 2005, an immigrant living in Manchester approached a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employee about producing a fraudulent license for a friend. She helped him out that time and continued to help him out. The two charged up to $2,500 per license. The DMV worker claimed that at first “she believed she was just helping out friends,” but then things got out of hand and she started to realize she was just being taken advantage of. (Really, how often do friends charge another friend up to $2,500 for some help?) She even fraudulently passed a truck driver for a hazardous materials license. (What’s the big deal, just a few explosives in a truck going through the Boston or NY tunnels.) By 2009, the team had provided up to 80 people with bogus licenses – ranging in location from Florida, to Texas, to Minnesota. (Now, how will you get them back? Maybe asking nicely… when you find them.)
The DMV worker is estimated to have profited about $34,000 for her scheme – in which she used her new-found funds to invest in a failed attempt for a race horse, and put money in her daughter’s college fund. (Nice, you invest in race horses and pay tuition, at the expense of letting criminals loose on the streets to prey upon the rest of us. It’s to the Big House Baby!) In court, she additionally admitted to stealing money from the DMV office to buy cocaine from her accomplice’s brother.
In May 2012, the ex-DMV clerk and her accomplice were sentenced to prison terms that were not as harsh as state prosecutors had hoped. The ex-DMV clerk was sentenced to eight to 28 years in prison on charges of bribery, theft and drugs. Her co-defendant was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison on charges of bribery. He also faces the threat of deportation back to the Dominican Republic.
The article notes that the case exposes a “critical weakness in the DMV computer system” – the need for facial recognition software “to determine whether a person holds a driver’s license elsewhere.” When it comes to detecting fraud, I’d argue in favor of an alternative solution: knowledge-based authentication from a public records company. If the person who is seeking to acquire the fake license doesn’t have a second license, the facial recognition approach won’t work. Instead, a knowledge-based authentication system leveraging public records will identify key indicators for potential fraud.