Contact: Kevin R. Malone
IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 19, 2004
NEWS FROM: Compliance Enforcement Division 04-103
The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles has a new enforcement unit combating identification fraud, now a felony offense in most cases.
“The word is getting out,” says Supervising Investigator Mike Pirtle of the DMV’s Las Vegas Document Fraud Unit, which just completed its first six months of operations. “We have seen a marked decrease in the number of attempted identity fraud cases in DMV offices.”
The new Las Vegas unit, made up of four investigators and a document examiner, was approved by the 2003 Nevada Legislature and began operations October 1, 2003. The unit has opened approximately 400 cases, arrested 25 people and issued warrants, summons or citations in another 11 cases.
In Reno, two investigators were assigned to document fraud as a pilot project in November 2002. Since July 1, 2003, the Reno unit has opened 190 cases, arrested 33 people and issued warrants, summons or citations in 17 cases.
With the fraud units in place, DMV technicians are now able to refer a potential case to an investigator for immediate action. Every department technician already receives fraudulent document training that ranks among the best in the nation.
A typical case might involve a DMV customer attempting to use a false driver’s license, birth certificate or other document when applying for a Nevada license. The DMV technician would first take a suspected fraudulent document to a supervisor, who would then determine whether to call in an investigator. The investigator would determine whether to open a case and if an arrest is warranted. Arrested suspects would be booked into the appropriate local jail and turned over to the District Attorney for prosecution.
While identification fraud is the prime focus of the Fraud Unit, investigators are able to take action on suspected fraudulent vehicle titles and odometer statements.
The fraud units are the enforcement arm of an overall DMV strategy to reduce or eliminate identity theft and other crimes committed against the citizens of Nevada. The department has developed a number of other new tools in recent years.
The Nevada DMV uses online Social Security number verification and investigators can contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for immigration status. The department’s new digital driver license technology also allows technicians to compare a photograph with an applicant’s face when applying for a duplicate driver’s license.
Other changes are regulatory. The Nevada Homeland Security bill, passed in 2003, established a felony offense for possession of fraudulent identity documents, with one notable exception: minors who attempt to obtain false ID for gaming purposes or for the purchase of alcohol or tobacco will be charged with a misdemeanor.
The bill also enables the DMV to request additional identification from an out-of-state motorists wanting to obtain a Nevada driver’s license if that motorist comes from a state that has less stringent proof of identity than Nevada. The DMV now asks for a birth certificate or other additional proof from applicants coming from 20 states, the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories.