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ID Liveness Detection: How Experts Address Identity Document Spoofing

Document liveness detection is used to determine whether an ID document being presented to a security system is genuine.

ID Liveness Detection: General Overview

Document liveness detection refers to the verification process which determines if a presented identification document is authentic. This is necessary to verify people, detect forgeries, and prevent potential digital crime. There are various types of fraud that involve fake document usage online — identity theft, money laundering, illegal purchasing of restricted goods or prescribed medicine, accessing private data, and so on. Terrorism assistance and sponsoring is another critical threat; by using a physical fake ID, an attacker can purchase tickets online and obtain access to airplanes, public events, and other critical target areas while keeping their real identity hidden from the authorities.

ID-based attacks also vary in ways and means. Presentation Attacks (PA) imply that a malicious actor can show a printed or digital photo of someone else’s likeness to a system's sensors if the remote identity proofing (RIDP) requires a selfie to complete authorization.

Face blending used to combine attributes of persons on left and right and synthesize a fake face in the middle
Face blending is widely used for making fake IDs

Another method of identity-based presentation attack is face morphing. Although it is not considered an attack type on its own, it is gaining popularity among malicious actors. By combining facial features of two or more people, they can produce an ID photo or fake selfie that has a possibility of being authorized as both/multiple applicants.

Face blending is widely used for making fake IDs

Another attack type directly involves fake, stolen or expired documents. To detect these, a document liveness check is required. It analyzes various properties of a presented ID, including its 3D properties, expiration/issuance date, coat of arms, holograms, stamps, and other security details.

A noteworthy case of online ID fraud took place in 2020 when a perpetrator used multiple accounts, fake driver licenses and wigs to spoof ID.me — the digital identity verification platform employed by US government agencies. According to their report, $900,000 were claimed on unemployment grounds before the scam was finally detected and stopped. The eventual goal of the heist was to illegally claim $2.5 million.

Man uses fake ID and picture with fake curly wig to scam ID.me detection system
The "Wig scam" used to fool the ID.me facial recognition system

Document liveness detection also plays a major role in Know Your Customer (KYC), Customer Due Diligence (CDD), and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) security standards accepted by payment providers, banks, e-commerce, and various institutions worldwide, as well as in liveness certification.

Document Authenticity vs Originality

The word ‘authentic’ means reliable or genuine which can be equivalent to original, but not original. While, the word ‘original’ means the first or the earliest of all, which exists from its birth, the real true form from which replicas can be made, but those won’t be the original ones.

In KYC the remote checking of the Authenticity of the document means checking the correctness of the form, structure, bar-codes, and other security features presented on the photo of the document while checking the Originality of the document means that the original document (not its digital or printed copy) is presented in front of the camera.


To address the issue of rising threats against online identity documentation, multiple antispoofing solutions and countermeasures are proposed.

IDLive Doc

IDLive Doc, a solution developed by one of the key biometric companies ID R&D, focuses on preventing screen replay attacks. These attacks stem from a common criminal tactic: perpetrators obtain an image of a real ID or produce its copy in a software like Photoshop or GIMP. Then, the fabricated image is presented to the sensors of a RIDP system using a high-resolution screen.

Typically, a human eye cannot spot a forgery if the "high resolution retina displays" are used for the attack. Therefore, an accurate and quick liveness check is required. IDLive Doc is based on a passive liveness detection method, hence the procedure requires a few seconds without imposing any additional verification challenges. ID R&D has not undisclosed which technical solutions are used in IDLive Doc, except that a "unique Deep Neural Network-based approach" serves as its basis. It allows detecting liveness from just a single image. It is claimed to be capable of performing "artifact detection", which possibly refers to editing artifacts, double compression, and other similar clues.

IDLive smartphone application is used to detect liveness in US man's passport
IDLive Doc allows verifying IDs with a simple smartphone

Smart Engines

Smart Engines introduced two solutions for document spoofing detection.

Computation Document Forensic AI

Computation Document Forensic AI (CDF AI) is a GDPR-compliant multipurpose AI system. It specializes in full-scale document analysis, providing a group of AI models for analyzing images, document liveness holograms, templates, stamps and seals, text and font etc. These AI models search for potential anomalies left by image editing, artificial synthesis, digital or physical copying, and other procedures. The detection process is based on optical and infrared range analysis, which can be compared to a standard UV lamp check widely used in many countries. Another interesting feature of CDF AI is providing complete autonomy to the user. All data and analysis tools are deployed and stored on the user’s gadget —smartphone or tablet etc. As a result, this prevents data leakages and provides a convenient offline workflow.

Smart ID Engine

Smart ID Engine is an ID liveness detector that analyzes various properties of a document. These properties include document geometry, holograms and monograms, machine-readable zones (MRZ), and other security components. Besides, Smart ID Engine can attest the document state by capturing a video stream or creating separate frames. The solution can process documents from 210 jurisdictions worldwide, while supporting 99 languages, including Chinese and Urdu. Working in a passive mode, it also shows high performance speed: taking 250 ms per frame to recognize a US driver’s license.

Smart ID Engine can analyze IDs from various countries
Smart ID Engine can analyze IDs from various countries


CheckScan is a novelty ID verification approach introduced in March 2022. The idea suggests the possibility of distinguishing a legitimate document from a fake by analyzing its quality. It follows two stages.

Feature extraction. This stage is based on Fast Fourier Transform (FFT). Basically, an image in question is separated into a group of blocks that do not overlap. Then, the FFT magnitude spectrum will be estimated for every single block. As a result, FFT magnitude peaks are extracted as discriminative features.

Hash construction. Previously obtained magnitude peaks are quantized into binary codes based on the peak coordinates. In this way good discriminates can be achieved. They are capable of distinguishing bona fide and fabricated identification documents.

ID Verification Suite

The ID Verification Suite developed by AuthenticID is a document authenticity detector. As reported, it’s capable of identifying an authentic document of any type or jurisdiction within milliseconds. It involves text, symbol, and signature analysis based on Visual Inspection Zone (VIZ) and Machine-Readable Zone (MRZ), as well as behavioral analysis, and extraction of Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF) data.   

Remote Identity Verification

Designed by Trustmatic, it is presented as a solution that can successfully fend off Replay Attacks when an image of a document is presented to a scanner from a gadget’s screen, Printed Attacks that employ fake replicas of the genuine documents, and Portrait Overlay Attacks when perpetrators put someone else’s photo over the original one in a legitimate document.Digital Identity Service

Digital Identity Service from Innovatrics is a solution to tackle document fraud with a quick document liveness check. It can detect any type of screen replaying a document image: smartphone, tablet, TV, etc. 

Dataset for Document Recognition

To assist development of document liveness detection tools, a number of datasets have been developed, though their number is quite limited when compared to the number of deepfake datasets available. Some known examples include LRDE Identity Document Image Database (LRDE IDID), Brazilian Identity Document Dataset (BID Dataset), SmartDoc (partly), DLC-2021, and Mobile Identity Document Video Dataset (MIDV) presented in a few generations.

Common challenges in all existing datasets involve insufficient sample materials or feature IDs with blurred faces, precise cropping, nonexistent background, and so on. The MIDV dataset seeks to fix that, while also providing a large number of IDs and a variety of document types and templates, fonts, ethnicities, ornaments, and other security elements. The dataset also applies different capture methods such as office scanners and smartphones etc.

A fake nonexistent face of a man created using Generated Photos application
A synthesized face created with Generated Photos

The ID photos were created with Generated Photos based on a StyleGAN2 approach. While the datasets preserve original templates that can be found within the European Union, their names and additional elements, like signatures, are purposely falsified.

Fake passport of Albanian man synthesized using images from MIDV-2020 ID dataset
A MIDV-2020 ID sample

Notably, ID photos are presented both in color and grayscale, which is a common case with authentic documents. Furthermore, a select number of samples were photographed in more of a “real life” ambiance — on the ground, desk, keyboard — to increase the difficulty for the recognition system.

IDs of real people placed in different lighting and background to train detection tools
Various samples mimicking photographed IDs in "real life" ambiance
IDs placed in real-life ambiance like on the ground and in hand
Various samples mimicking photographed IDs in “real life” ambiance. Other examples.

Document Liveness Challenge

Document liveness challenges are an important part of increasing awareness about ID fraud and finding potential solutions. some prominent competitions are listed in the facial Antispoofing Wiki.

The first competition dubbed ICMV Document Liveness Challenge 2021 was held in 2021 by Smart Engines in collaboration with RAS and Laboratoire Informatique. The challenge was divided into three parts:

  1. Laminated documents & unlaminated gray copies
  2. Documents photographed with a smart gadget
  3. Unlaminated copies in color.

The DLC datasets included 1424 videos, each one captured vertically with an average length of 5 seconds. The samples were presented in the form of videos, separate frames and markups. The competition is held regularly, with the most recent challenge being held in November 2023, welcoming researchers in the area to showcase their solutions.

ID liveness detection methods are a subset of tools in the area of antispoofing that is becoming more and more relevant: remote identity antispoofing. How can a security system accurately use biometric and behavioral data to verify someone remotely? Read our next article here.


  1. Inside the Brussels flat where terrorists scored fake IDs
  2. Face Morphing, a Modern Threat to Border Security: Recent Advances and Open Challenges
  3. A guide to getting remote identity verification right
  4. ID.me gathers lots of data besides face scans, including locations. Scammers still have found a way around it
  5. Who is ID.me?
  6. What is Customer Due Diligence (CDD)?
  7. IDLive Doc
  8. Standalone universal ID document liveness detector launched by ID R&D
  9. General Data Protection Regulation
  10. Understanding UV Security: How and Why It’s Used on Payment Documents
  11. Smart Engines has launched document liveness detection for ID documents scanning
  12. Smart Engines has launched a new generation of recognition systems with document authentication and biometric verification
  13. CheckScan: a reference hashing for identity document quality detection
  14. LRDE Identity Document Image Database
  15. Brazilian Identity Document Dataset
  16. SmartDoc
  17. Mobile Identity Document Video Dataset
  18. A synthesized face created with Generated Photos
  19. MIDV-2020: A Comprehensive Benchmark Dataset for Identity Document Analysis
  20. Fall digital identity events announced by Goode Intelligence, Future Identity, EAB, Smart Engines
  21. Russian Academy of Sciences by Wikipedia
  22. The 15th International Conference on Machine Vision
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