Changing Your Fingerprints Is Big Business

Do you remember the scene from the movie Men in Black in which Will Smith has to erase his background and identity so that he can become a secret agent with Tommy Lee Jones? One of the procedures involved the removal of Smith’s fingerprints.  Smith screamed as the agency quickly burned off his fingerprints with a laser.  Although the procedure seemed a little simplified and futuristic at the time, it isn’t that farfetched in today’s world.  Don’t believe me?  I have proof.  I read an article this month discussing a woman that had her fingerprints switched in order to conceal her true identity and gain entry into Japan.  Officials arrested the Chinese woman and discovered that she had had surgery on her fingers to fool Japanese biometric border checks.  The 27-year old woman, who was deported from Japan in 2007, paid for surgery to remove and switch the fingerprints from her left to right hands.  Several nations, like Japan, use fingerprint scanners to check travelers entering the country, and the surgery would prevent her from getting caught (so she thought).  Lin reportedly entered Japan illegally using someone else’s passport and her new fingerprints. She was originally arrested last month for entering a fake marriage to a Japanese man. After noticing scars on her fingers, police investigated further.  The expensive procedure cost her 1.3 million Yen (about $14,000 US Dollars), not to mention a trip to jail.  Despite the fact that this arrest and the surgery might seem unique, it has actually happened on a number of different occasions.  In fact, eight people have been arrested for altering their fingerprints in order to enter Japan between January and October.  We can only imagine the number of uncaught (or yet to be caught) travelers that have had this surgery performed in other parts of the world.  People will do crazy things to get around the law, but it comes at a high price.

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