Fraudulent ID using face morphs : experiments on human and automatic recognition

Robertson, David J. and Kramer, Robin S. S. and Burton, A. Mike (2017) Fraudulent ID using face morphs : experiments on human and automatic recognition. PLOS One, 12 (3). e0173319. ISSN 1932-6203

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    Abstract

    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.