Vinny Lingham’s ID verification firm fights AI fraud

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 27 Mar 2024
Vinny Lingham, co-founder and chairman of the board at Civic.
Vinny Lingham, co-founder and chairman of the board at Civic.

US-based digital identity verification company Civic has rolled out its physical ID card to combat artificial intelligence (AI)-based fraud.

Civic was co-founded by South African-born tech entrepreneur Vinny Lingham, who is now based in Silicon Valley.

Lingham was previously CEO of Gyft and Yola, and is co-founder of Silicon Cape, an NGO based in SA that aims to turn Cape Town into a technology hub.

He also founded and was previously CEO of global search marketing firm incuBeta and its subsidiary Clicks2Customers.

“Our vision at Civic is a future where user-controlled digital identity is the standard for authentication and authorisation across all digital interactions,” says Lingham.

“We’re very aware of the challenges that the rapidly-evolving AI world poses to human identity verification. Criminals are increasingly using cutting-edge AI technologies to bypass many of the checks and guardrails society has been using until now. By launching our physical ID card, we’re taking real steps towards protecting against fraudulent activity that takes place digitally.”

In a statement, the company says the Civic ID card forms the real-world bridge for the new Civic ID system, which consists of three components – a digital, analogue and mobile identity.

It notes the digital identity that exists currently through the platform includes Civic Passes, which are private, non-transferable tokens that are verified credentials.

The physical Civic ID card, announced yesterday, forms the analogue identity that has been developed with security features such as holograms, laser engraving and optical variable ink, and enables offline and NFC-based verification for secure checks, the company explains.

The final, hybrid aspect enables advanced identity management through both the analogue physical card and the digital Civic platform using, it adds.

“Building a world where everyone has access to a trusted identity solution is not an exact science. The approach here is not dissimilar to the field of cyber security, which has standards but does not guarantee infallibility,” says Chris Hart, CEO of Civic.

“Our efforts in digital identity are centred around packaging the best set of signals to demonstrate authentic verification as comprehensively as practicable, which we believe necessitates a physical component. By adding this layer of verification, Civic continues to exhibit our commitment to ensuring authenticity and trust remain at the core of every digital interaction.”

According to Civic, distinguishing between humans and AI agents is becoming increasingly difficult with the development of every new AI technology.

It points out that with OpenAI’s Sora AI, which creates realistic and imaginative scenes from text instructions, and the availability of fake AI-generated IDs, the need to protect against fraudulent identity has become ever more urgent.

Civic’s ID card will complement its digital-only products and serve as vital proof of identity, essential in an AI era when in-person verification will remain the most definitive proof of personhood, says the firm.

It explains that use cases that the physical ID card will help solve include a scheme called face farming, where scammers accumulate many verified wallets using video selfies that belong to others.

It believes social media account takeovers and account fakes where people pose as celebrities, journalists, or friends to scam followers can be significantly decreased.

Fake videos where authentic identity is crucial – such as in governmental elections – are also anticipated to be an important area to address this year.