Robertson, D. J., Kramer, R. S. S., & Burton, A. M. (2017). Fraudulent ID using face morphs: Experiments on human and automatic recognition. PLoS ONE, 12(3), e0173319.

Matching unfamiliar faces is known to be difficult, and this can give an opportunity to those engaged in identity fraud. Here we examine a relatively new form of fraud, the use of photo-ID containing a graphical morph between two faces. Such a document may look sufficiently like two people to serve as ID for both. We present two experiments with human viewers, and a third with a smartphone face recognition system. In Experiment 1, viewers were asked to match pairs of faces, without being warned that one of the pair could be a morph. They very commonly accepted a morphed face as a match. However, in Experiment 2, following very short training on morph detection, their acceptance rate fell considerably. Nevertheless, there remained large individual differences in people’s ability to detect a morph. In Experiment 3 we show that a smartphone makes errors at a similar rate to ‘trained’ human viewers—i.e. accepting a small number of morphs as genuine ID. We discuss these results in reference to the use of face photos for security.

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