We’ve already talked about high-resolution silicone masks and other disguises being used by criminals (as well as legitimate artists and activists) to fool CCTV and facial recognition. It’s been quite a while between updates, as I’ve been busy working on my upcoming book, Ghost Guns: Hobbyists, Hackers, and the Homemade Weapons Revolution.
However, these cases are cool enough (and weird enough) to bring the ol’ blog out of quasi-hiatus.
Skilled makers can produce realistic silicone masks themselves, or they can be bought from boutique makers for a few hundred to a few thousand bucks. Apparently, one French-Israeli fraudster named Gilbert Chikli figured out how to get his money back and then some. All he had to do was impersonate the French Defense Minister John-Yves Le Drian to steal $90 million dollars in donor money ostensibly meant to ransom French hostages held by middle-eastern Islamist groups.
Yeah, you read that right. For the cost of a realistic silicone mask and a Skype account, this guy impersonated French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Drian in video conferences with wealthy donors, and parlayed that into a $90 million caper.
Ah, but there’s another gutsy recent facecase. A Brazilian drug trafficker used a realistic silicone mask to pose as his own 19-year-old daughter in a prison escape attempt. Somebody smuggled in a realistic mask and some clothes that matched the daughter’s. Exploiting his smaller stature and trim physique, drug trafficker Clauvino da Silva did a pretty good job passing for his own daughter. As in many of these cases, the disguise itself was convincing enough that the only reason the guards caught him on the way out was because he was acting nervous.