Doctored Passport Photo's

How would one know if a passport photo was doctored if one doesn’t know what the person is supposed to look like? My question stems from the following article on the Dubai Assasination:

My US passport has the photo fused to the page under clear plastic and there’s all kinds of watermark type graphics. If someone were to take my passport and try to put a different photo in it it’s highly likely that they’d damage the coating/paper/graphics and any halfway decent security check would spot it.

Now if you have the ability to actually forge complete passports that’s a different situation, but modifying an existing one would be tricky because of the security features in place to make just such a thing more difficult.

(Missed the edit window)

The article makes it sound like the passports themselves were probably created from scratch and the photos were altered so that, while passable during a regular security check (keep in mind those photos are about 1.5" square, not very big) they had been doctored so that if you plastered them all over the country on “Wanted” posters the resemblance wouldn’t be good enough to positively identify the culprits.

What looks acceptable on a tiny photo, especially to an inspector who is seeing hundreds or thousands of people every week, might look very different when blown up to larger size.

I took my own passport photo and sent it in with my application. I did run it through Photoshop to slightly adjust focus and contrast. But what was preventing me from actually doctoring the photo, or even using someone else’s?

Either you sent it in with an old passport, in which case they can compare the old pictures with the new one, or you had to submit the application in person at a passport acceptance location, such as a post office.

…or you have to get the picture countersigned by a “competent person” such as a doctor, lawyer, Al-Qaeda training camp leader, etc.

The last time I got a passport, I didn’t send in my old one. I just mailed in the application form, payment, a photo countersigned by the photographer, and a declaration that I was who I said I was. Unless they made a photocopy of my old passport before they issued it to me, I could easily have sent in a photo of a completely different person and they wouldn’t have known.

When I applied at the US Post Office for my passport, the clerk said “Is this you?” I have long hair in the photo, but I have it brushed back. I put my hair down and it looked just like me. He said, “OK, now you look like your photo.” And he sent it through.

So I gues it would be up to the clerk taking the application. Seems it would be easier to slip a clerk a few hundred bucks and get a real passport by bribes.

To answer the original question, my WAG would be that once the photos were blown up artifacts of the manipulation process were evident that were not apparent in the tiny passport phots.

Don’t think anybody has actually addressed the OP’s question.

The reason that we have the passport photos of the alleged assassins is because they were scanned when they passed through customs. If an agent scans it a second time at another location, and the photo on the screen is a white woman and the photo on the passport in front of you is an arab man, you know it has been altered.

An agent at the gate probably isn’t going to notice if the eye color has been changed, and difference in hair line/hair color/facial hair/glasses/etc. is probably fairly common.

I found it surprising that the passport names and numbers used were in some cases actual British residents (dual citizens?) of Israel; while other passports were sufficiently bogus that the sequence of letters/numbers in the passport ID did not match the patterns of the country they were supposedly from. I find it hard to believe that Mossad would endanger Israeli residents or make purposely shoddy passports.

I assume the quality of passport making has improved since I got ny 1992 UK passport, where the tape over the photo was so sloppy that there was a crinkle in it, as if I tried to put packing tape over the photo page and it stuck to itself creating a ridge about 1/16 inch high.

The tapes now have that holographic image embedded on them so that it’s difficult to fake, unless you have resources like Mossad or CIA or the Taiwanese Novelty and Plastics Co. (Everything has holographic etching on it nowadays). After all, you can’t rely on a customs agent even in to Dubai, to miss the fact that your passport doesn’t have the same holographic etching. Even the stupidest guard will figure out “hey, there’s probably another German/Australian/French guy in line, let’s ask him to step up and compare the plastic coverings”.

The resemblance between license picture and actual person is legendarily bad. Create a somewhat fuzzy photo, slightly alter the key face-recognition parameters (Not sure, but I assume eye separation, jaw line and mouth position…) Hair colour is always something that’s off. Brown in the photo looks too dark or too light depending on the lighting, and dye is cheap anyway. Trying to remember which movie the guy disguised himself with inserts around the gums - the original Day of the Jackal?

Also, there was an article once about the RCMP’s official police ID in the news several years ago; someone tried to alter one, but the material under the plastic turned black when it was pried off the photo. I doubt that passports are this fancy. If someone has received back their expired passport they can try…

I’m always worried that someone will think my UK passport is fake. The photo looks fine from the front. However, at the back of the page, there are pretty noticeable bulges in the paper along the top and bottom edges of the photo that look like bubbles, and they seem to get worse after the passport has been sitting in my pocket for a while. No one has said anything so far though…

Let me see if I can clarify the question some…

Haretz says the photo’s were doctored so that you wouldn’t be able to indentify the person but that would require you knowing what the person looked like compared to the photo.

Someone brought up a drivers license photo, to me there’s no comparison between that and a passport photo which is usually almost twice as large.

The photo’s released by the Dubai Governement look pretty clear and I’ve seen folks ID from pictures that aren’t as clear.

Oh. They have hours of CCTV footage from the hotel, showing the alleged agents activities over several days. Comparing those to the passport photos is probably what revealed that the photos were doctored.