Mask should have been easy to detect: make-up artist
Published Saturday, November 6, 2010 2:18PM PDT
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 12:08AM PDT
Authorities are still trying to figure out how a man in a silicone mask managed to fool airport security in Hong Kong, and masters of disguise say his ruse should have been easy to detect.
The 20-something Asian man from rural China managed to board an Air Canada flight to Vancouver disguised as an elderly white man. He took off his mask in the airplane's bathroom, and made a claim for refugee status upon landing in B.C.
His lawyer, Lee Rankin, says many Chinese are employing smuggling agents to get them out of the communist country and into the democratic West.
"In this case, it was so transparent, I don't there was any other intention but to come to Canada and make an asylum claim," Rankin told CTV News.
At Vancouver Film School, students are trained to make remarkable disguises, changing gender and race with silicone and make-up. The school's head of make-up design, Stan Edmonds, says that the young asylum-seeker's mask was comparatively crude.
"You should be able to see it's a mask -- there's a lot of telltale signs. It just means that people really weren't paying attention to him," Edmonds said.
One of the first things people onboard the flight noticed was that his old-looking face didn't match his young hands. He obviously didn't pay attention to every little detail.
To demonstrate more intricate techniques, Edmonds "aged" the hand of CTV's Norma Reid by about 50 years. The entire process took just 10 minutes.
But the masked man didn't seem to require such rigorous subterfuge. Edmonds believes he bought his mask online. The mask is called "The Elder" and sells for just under $700.
"I'm still really surprised he got away with it," Edmonds said.
Experts believe the man likely got a boarding pass for another destination, and went through security in Hong Kong using his own identity.
"It's only when it's only when he came to the last stage before boarding that he probably met his accomplice, swiped the boarding pass, went to the washroom and put on his disguise, then showed himself to the boarding.," former CSIS agent Michel Juneau-Katsuya said.
Now Air Canada is facing heat over how employees allowed the man on the plane. An internal alert from the Canada Border Services Agency says that officials believe he used an Aeroplan card as identification.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Norma Reid