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The Passport Office has stopped 600 fraudulent passport applications using a facial recognition system it rolled out as a pilot across its fraud units last year.

The Identity and Passport Service has since deemed the trial a success and, having built a database of mugshots belonging to around 25,000 known fraudsters, has decided to procure a permanent system.

"This project has developed and implemented a Facial Recognition System which has successfully identified fraudulent applications in duplicate identities - over 600 to date," said the IPS in a statement.

The IPS processed 600,000 passport applications in 2006/07, which suggests the facial recognition system has picked out fraudsters in 0.1 per cent of cases. In March, the IPS said that a retrospective fraud audit using its latest techniques had found that 0.25 per cent of passport applications were fraudulent.

Either way, the IPS seems to think it's worth the expense (though it's not published any kind of business plan for the project).

"This has allowed the FRS team to build user and technical requirements for a fully integrated facial recognition solution in the future," said the statement.

"IPS will look to further develop its facial recognition systems to exploit its facial biometric database, which now includes over 30 million photographs," it added. ®

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