Facial imaging software detects 28 cases of welfare fraud in 2018

System ‘self-financing’ as value of fraudulent activity detected now over €4m – department

Facial imaging software deployed by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection has recorded 28 cases of identity fraud to date in 2018.

According to the department, the cost of operating the facial imaging software system “is self-financing” as the value of fraudulent activity detected since its introduction is more than €4 million.

It said the savings recorded in the first six months of this year as a result of identity fraud detected using current facial imaging software came to a total of €334,000.

Savings of €894,000 were made from use of the facial imaging software to detect identity fraud in 2017 and €1.73 million was saved in 2016.


The department has just signed a €383,000 contract with UK firm Gemalto for the design, development and implementation of upgraded facial recognition software.

According to the Department, the system now needs to be replaced to improve performance and functionality to include an improved algorithm in line with current market standards and expectations.

The first contract for the facial image matching software was awarded in April 2012 at a cost of about €213,000, excluding VAT.

The software attempts to match individuals’ photographs with the photographs it stores of all of the other 3.2 million people who have applied for a public services card.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times