Murder Suspect Caught After AI Detected Victim's Face When Used to Apply for Online Loan

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Illustration: Angelica Alzona (Gizmodo)

An online lending company tipped off police to a suspected murder after a man allegedly tried to scan his dead girlfriend’s face.

When police found the 29-year-old man in southeast China, he was reportedly attempting to burn the woman’s body on a farm, according to the South China Morning Post, which says the story was originally reported by Xiamen Evening News.


Authorities suspect the man used a rope to strangle his partner on April 11th following an argument over money. The incident allegedly occurred in Xiamen. Then the man took the body and fled to his hometown of Sanming, which is a four-hour drive away.

In Sanming, the alleged murderer apparently attempted to use the victims’s identity to apply for a loan on Money Station, an app that uses facial recognition verification and requires the user to blink during the approval process. The app did not detect eye movement but it did detect that the voice was that of a man, not a woman.


Workers at the lending company manually checked the failed verification and saw the woman was bruised and had red markings on her neck.

According to South China Morning News, the man was formally arrested early this month. He has been accused of stealing 30,000 yuan ($4,200 USD) from the victim’s account through her phone. He allegedly also used her phone to tell her parents she was taking a trip and to message her employer asking to take time off.


Here in the U.S., researchers have reportedly found workarounds to Apple’s “liveness” detection systems. But perhaps we’ll start to see more biometric verification steps in apps so we won’t have to worry about people stealing our identities after they murder us.