WASHINGTON — Facial recognition technology caught an impostor trying to enter the U.S. on a fake passport that may have passed at face value with humans, federal officials said Thursday.
And the groundbreaking arrest came on just the third day of usage of the biometric tech at Washington Dulles International Airport.
The 26-year-old man arrived Wednesday on a flight from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and presented a French passport to the customers officer, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Using the new facial comparison biometric system, the officer determined the unidentified traveler did not match the passport he presented.
After being sent for a secondary examination, an identification card from the Republic of Congo was found hidden at the bottom of the man's shoe, officials said.
(Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
"You can much more accurately identify who an individual is. You can much more rapidly speed them through processes," David Heyman, a former assistant secretary with the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration, told NBC News. "And be much more likely be able to target the individuals who are unlawfully present in the United States."
Wednesday's arrest was the first identify scammer detected using the new technology, U.S. officials said. The fledgling technology is already being tested at 14 airports, and was launched at Dulles just this past Monday.
Some of the strangest and most terrifying objects TSA has confiscated
Some of the strangest and most terrifying objects TSA has confiscated
A Newark (EWR) traveler attempted to take their hoe on the plane. If you need to travel with your gardening hoe, it’ll have to go in your checked bag.
Packing list: Socks. ✅ Toothbrush. ✅ Curling Iron. ✅ Post-apocalyptic bullet-adorned gas mask. ❌ While gas masks are allowed in carry-on bags, replica bullets are not. This was discovered in a carry-on bag at Miami (MIA). Maybe he was catching a one way flight to #FuryRoad?
Talk about deadheading... This crusty ol' chap is actually a prop from the #TexasChainsawMassacre movie. He was brought through a checkpoint at the Atlanta (#ATL) International Airport, where as you can see, he was screened and sent on his jolly way. #TSAOnTheJob
We’re pretty sure this isn’t a letter opener. A bladed dragon claw perhaps??? Whatever it is, it should be packed in checked baggage. It was discovered in a carry-on bag at Atlanta (ATL).
This ornate flask of black powder was discovered in a carry-on bag at Allentown (ABE). While it is a fancy flask, the black powder contained within is an explosive and is strictly prohibited in both carry-on and checked bags.
Attention! This is not a drill… It’s just a really large wrench. Tools over 7” must be packed in checked baggage. Especially 18-inch crescent wrenches like this one that our officers discovered in a carry-on bag at New York Kennedy Airport (JFK). #TSATravelTips
With a simple unsnap and pull, this mild mannered belt becomes BELT KNIFE! Clever idea, but a bad idea to wear it through the checkpoint or pack it in your carry-on bag. Concealed weapons can lead to fines and arrest. Please pack items such as this in your checked baggage. This was discovered in a carry-on bag at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW). #TSAGoodCatch
While some travelers are worried about packing nail clippers (they are allowed), others pack a pair of five-bladed floggers. You guessed it; these are not allowed in carry-on bags. If you’re in a situation where you’re going to need your floggers, they’ll have to be packed in checked baggage. These were discovered last week in a carry-on bag at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas (IAH). #TSATravelTips
#TSAGoodCatch - This knife was discovered concealed in a bottle of pills at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Concealed knives can lead to fines and arrest. Please pack them in your checked bag.
#TSAGoodCatch - This comb dagger was discovered in a carry-on bag at the Lihue Airport (LIH) in Hawaii. Knives are always prohibited in carry-on bags no matter the size. Concealed knives can lead to fines and arrest.
#TSAGoodCatch - This cane sword was detected recently in a passenger’s carry-on property at Las Vegas (LAS). All knives and swords are prohibited in carry-on bags, and concealed items can lead to arrest and fines.
#TSAGoodCatch - This push dagger was discovered in a package of gum at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW). Knives are always prohibited from carry-on bags, but concealed knives can lead to fines and arrest.
#TSAGoodCatch - Another #Batarang was discovered in a carry-on bag. This time it was at the Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD). Next time, leave your batarang in the bat cave, #Batman!
#TSAGoodCatch - A throwing star was discovered in a carved-out compartment in a wooden cellphone case at Ontario (ONT) in a carry-on bag. Concealed items can lead to fines and arrest.
#TSAGoodCatch - This #bejeweled lipstick stun gun was discovered in a carry-on bag at the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). All stun guns are prohibited from being packed in carry-on bags or carried on your person.
#TSAGoodCatch - These neon green faux blood adorned machetes and throwing knives were discovered in a carry-on bag at the Portland International Airport (PDX). While machetes and throwing knives are prohibited in carry-on bags, they may be packed in checked baggage that goes in the luggage hold under the plane.
#TBT April, 2014 - An 8.5” knife was discovered inside an enchilada at the Sonoma County Airport (STS). While this was a great catch, the passenger’s intent was delicious, not malicious, and she was cleared for travel. It’s always important to double check your bags and enchiladas.
Agent Neville Flynn would be extremely proud of our officers at the Miami International Airport (MIA). You see, Agent Flynn has HAD IT with snakes on planes, and our officers prevented a young Ball Python from flying the friendly skies this past Sunday.
A traveler on her way to the Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI) in Barbados attempted to smuggle the snakelet inside of an external hard drive packed in her checked bag. If you think airplane seats can feel constricting, imagine how this little guy felt! Talk about bad memories!
While the python itself posed no danger to anyone on the aircraft, an organic item concealed inside electronics raises security concerns, which is why our officers took a closer look.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service ( @USFWS ) was notified. They responded and took possession of the snake and cited the traveler. Both the traveler and the snake missed their flight.
Conversationally, this python had not gone full monty. It was wearing a nylon stocking.
#TBT - May 2014 - This mallet was discovered in a traveler’s carry-on property at the Burlington International Airport (BTV). Items such as sledgehammers and mallets are considered bludgeons and are prohibited from being packed in carry-on bags. Checked baggage is fine.
#TSAGoodCatch - This ice pick concealed inside of a cane was discovered in a traveler’s carry-on property at Newark (EWR). Concealed weapons can lead to fines and arrest.
#TSAGoodCatch - These nunchucks were discovered in a traveler’s carry-on bag at the Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR). Nunchucks are prohibited from being transported in carry-on bags, but may be packed in checked bags as long as they’re not illegal where you are traveling.
#TSATravelTips - Marijuana was discovered concealed in a jar of peanut butter in a checked bag at San Jose (SJC). As we’ve said before, we’re not looking for illegal narcotics, but we have to report them to law enforcement when discovered. #TSAGoodCatch
#TSAGoodCatch - This key knife was discovered at the Erie International Airport (ERI). All knives are prohibited from carry-on bags. Concealed knives can lead to arrests and fines.
#TBT December 2013 - This loaded 9mm was discovered in a shoe inside a carry-on bag at the Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT). This is one of the 1,813 firearms that were discovered in carry-on bags in 2013. 1,477 of those were loaded. While firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags, you can pack them in your checked baggage, as long as you meet the packing guidelines: bit.ly/travelingwithfirearms.
#TBT August 2011 -- Two birds were discovered during a pat-down that was being administered due to bulky clothing at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). They were wrapped in socks and taped to the leg and chest of a woman who was traveling to China. @USFWS officers arrested the woman on suspicion of smuggling and exporting an endangered species out of the United States. #TSAGoodCatch
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Facial recognition uses algorithms to match physical characteristics against photos and videos of people's faces that are on file from visas, passports and other sources. Customs officials say the cameras have a 99 percent accuracy rate. But critics worry about the implications for invasions of privacy that come with widespread use of the tech and the potential for mistaken matches.
Proponents of facial recognition in airports believe the biometric technology could be used as both a security enhancement and to speed up end-to-end processing starting at check-in. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has said it may eventually replace boarding passes, and the agency is testing the tech at a checkpoint in at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Tom Costello reported from Washington, D.C., Ethan Sacks from New York City.