IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 16, 2008
NEWS FROM: Directors Office 08-006
A man who allegedly collected disability benefits under a false identity for 17 years was arrested after investigators were alerted by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles’ new facial recognition system. Officers from the department’s Compliance Enforcement Division arrested Donald Howard, 50, of Reno as he collected his mail on Dec. 10.
Howard was arrested on one count of identity theft, one count of filing or submitting a false application and one count of possession of fraudulent documents, all felonies. His bail was set at $14,500.
According to investigators, Howard had a Nevada identification card in his real name and a driver’s license in an identity he admitted buying 18 years ago. It’s estimated he has collected at least $115,000 in disability benefits under the fake driver’s license over 17 years.
Howard renewed his fake driver’s license at the department’s Galletti office and then renewed his identification card at the Reno Express office the same day. When his digital photograph was compared to the photographs the department has on file, a match was made on the two documents.
The department began issuing licenses and identification cards centrally in Reno last October. Under the new process, applicants don’t receive their license at the DMV office. Rather, their old license is hole-punched and handed back, along with a paper interim document valid for up to 30 days. The permanent license or identification card is then produced at a secure, central facility and mailed to the customer within 10 working days.
The new cards have numerous security features including micro-printing, ghost images and a laser-engraved outline of the State of Nevada. The process also uses facial recognition software that compares new photos with other photos in its database as a further guard against identity theft.
See Central Issuance for more information on the new licensing system.
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