Surgically Altered Fingerprints Help Woman Evade Immigration

Chinese woman dupes Japanese immigration with surgically modified fingerprints.

ByABC News
December 10, 2009, 12:53 PM

Dec. 11, 2009— -- For millions of travelers who visit foreign countries, it's not just their passports, but their fingerprints, that they need to hand over at the border.

Because fingerprints are unique to each individual, fingerprint scanning at airports and other ports of entry helps security officials quickly identify criminals, terrorists, immigration violators and others. While not foolproof, for some countries, the system is the first line of defense against enemies of the state and other unwanted visitors.

But, earlier this month, Japanese officials arrested a Chinese woman who took a particularly extreme measure to evade detection. She paid a plastic surgeon to surgically alter her fingerprints.

Lin Rong, 27, was originally arrested Dec. 5 for faking a marriage license after she'd already entered the country, Japanese officials said. That' s when police saw scars on her hands and realized that she might have been guilty of more.

"During the course of the investigation, police found that she passed through the checkpoint using fake fingerprints," said Nobuyuki Kawai, director of the International Crime Office of Japan's National Police Agency.

He said Rong had previously been deported but sneaked back into the country to work in a restaurant or a bar.

Although local reports said she paid about $15,000 for the fingerprint transplant surgery, Kawai said Rong told officers she paid roughly $1,500 for the procedure that swapped fingerprints from her right and left hands.

Patches of skin from her thumbs and index fingers were reportedly removed and then grafted on to the ends of fingers on the opposite hand. As a result, Rong's identity was not detected when she re-entered Japan illegally.