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Biometric Fail reported

A South Korean woman entered Japan on a fake passport in April 2008 by slipping through a state-of-the-art biometric immigration control system using special tape on her fingers to alter her fingerprints, it was learned Wednesday…

During questioning, the woman allegedly told the immigration bureau that she had bought a forged passport from a South Korean broker who told her to purchase an air ticket for Aomori Airport.

The woman also was quoted as saying that the broker gave her the special tape with someone else’s fingerprints on, and that she slipped past the biometric recognition system by holding her taped index fingers over the scanner.

So reports the Yomiuri Shimbun, “S. Korean woman ‘tricked’ airport fingerprint scan.” The story doesn’t mention a name, but if anyone has more details, I’d love to know more.

[Update: DanT has some interesting speculation in the comments about both operational aspects of the entry being an inside job, and that the bureaucracy in question would re-assign the insider rather than prosecute.]

6 comments on "Biometric Fail reported"

  • Andy says:

    From the article the woman was deported and then found again in the country. She /claims/ she used the film but there seems to be no way of verifying it…

  • DanT says:

    Given the problems with translation (Korean likely speaking Japanese translated to English), I figure “special tape” to be some form of fake fingerprint using latex with adhesive backing. That she didn’t describe it in detail is unsurprising, she probably didn’t know what it was made of (a “hostess” is likely not a fingerprint forger.)
    Given that asian women are statistically more likely to have smooth fingerprints, these women’s fingers may have been expecially suited to using fake fingerprint overlays without their true fingerprint showing through. (Or, given the Japanese sanitation fetish, maybe the fingerprint is read without touching the device.)
    Given that the woman was told to fly into a particular airport indicates an inside job. Screeners are trained to check for fake fingerprint overlays (duh), but an insider could be paid to fake the check in certain circumstances (birthdate, passport number, etc.) which would be hard to detect by supervisors.
    The assertion that this episode “will force the government into a drastic review of … the current screening immigration system” is false. Most of the benefits of fingerprinting is to scare criminals away. Sufficiently motivated criminals will always find ways around the system.
    This particular system leak could be closed by investigation into who performed this particular check and the screener being allowed to transfer to a non-screening desk job. You won’t read about that anywhere.

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