A criminal case of mistaken identity shows the weakness of not doing full data matching. This was the case for Bethany K. Farber of California. The ability to do a full identity match, using a full name, a full date of birth, and a complete driver’s license number is often the key to preventing fraud against a business or government agency, and can also help make sure that the police do not arrest the wrong person.

In February 2022, Bethany K. Farber “was headed for a trip to Mexico but instead spent 13 days in a Los Angeles jail after police mistook her for another person with the same name, according to allegations in a lawsuit” shortly after her arrest.” Farber, who was held without bail, filed a wrongful arrest lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles in federal court.[1] “’Now what’s interesting, at the time Miss Farber is booked, the police do nothing to confirm whether or not this Bethany Farber is that Bethany Farber,’ Farber’s attorney, Rodney Diggs, told ABC 7.”[2] Farber added that “[a]t no time did [the police] ask [Farber] for [identifying information, like] her driver’s license, date of birth, age, social security number or any other information which would have proven that Plaintiff did not have any warrant for her arrest in the State of Texas…”[3]

When identifiers are stripped from a decision, like an application for a job, an apartment, a volunteer opportunity, or government benefits, getting the right match is difficult, and perhaps impossible. A lack of a match can mean more fraud and could pose a threat to public safety. The lack of a match also means the right job, apartment, volunteer opportunity, or government benefit, goes to the wrong person, or not to the intended applicant. Data matching is key.

[1] Stella Chan, A California woman spent 13 days in jail after being mistaken for another person with the same name, according to a lawsuit against the City of LA, cnn.com, Feb. 23, 2022.

[2] Vandana Ravikumar, She was jailed 13 days, then cops realized they arrested wrong woman, CA lawsuit says, Sacramento Bee, Feb. 23, 2022.

[3] Chloe Folmar, Woman who says she was mistakenly jailed for almost two weeks sues LAPD, The Hill, Feb. 23, 2022.