Thursday, December 9, 2021
HomeEditorialOne needs to alter their appearance quite a lot to be unidentifiable

One needs to alter their appearance quite a lot to be unidentifiable

plastic surgery, goodnight mommy, aesthetic, dual identity, dual face, surgery, cosmetic surgery
Still from the movie ‘Goodnight Mommy’

These days makeover is not only the prerogative of the glamour industry but the dreaded criminals opting for facial aesthetic treatment to hide their identity. Plastic surgery is a skill as good as the surgeon that performs the surgery. Most people are familiar with types of surgery for a facial facelift (for a more youthful appearance), rhinoplasty for the correction of the nasal cavity and outward appearance of the nose, breast augmentation for increasing the size of the breast or for correcting the appearance of them.

There is also facial feminization surgery that changes the appearance of a male face to a feminine appearance (that looks like it was born that way). And yes, due to the skeletal features of the cranium, a good surgeon could alter the appearance of a human to look like a cat, snake, or an alien too but no one easily prefers that.

To look like another human or to hide their own features, criminals are taking the help of such procedures. The expertise of the doctor can make your body look like the way one would like – as long as they have the money and patience. There was a rumour that Dawood Ibrahim changed his face that is the reason Interpol is not able to trace him.

Petty criminals travel from one place to another by growing their hair or shaving it off completely. Little wealthy criminals either have to build up features like widen a jaw, cheekbones, alter the nose. Or shrink the face, wear contact lenses. Anything and everything is possible, but just by changing looks criminals can’t get life for a long time.

There are many wanted criminals shown in the movie losing weight or gaining weight. They use lifts in their shoes and make themselves perhaps a few inches taller. If they have a head full of hair they shave. If they are bald, they get a man’s hairpiece and wear a ball cap. Grow a beard and moustache if clean-shaven. Wear different clothes than they normally wear.

Such movie plots are an inspiration for criminals. Meanwhile, each metropolitan city has mushrooming aesthetic centres and cosmetic surgeons. There are strict privacy norms, so who is getting done what remains with the doctor unless the doctor knows the criminal background of the person opting for changes.

Even after this, the criminals get caught if their biometrics, fingerprints and retinal details are with cops. They might change appearance but they get caught in the probe. Meanwhile, those friends and family residing around know who’s who. Most of such criminals get trapped by the tip from their near and dear ones.

In many places, criminals declare themselves dead. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are used to people pretending that they are deceased, so this will take a great deal of forethought and planning. They contact a newspaper in their area through their relatives and get an obituary. Very few publications or advertisers ask for a copy of the death certificate. Since there is no standard for these in India, and since they are rarely checked and they include a photo of that criminal to make believe that the person is no more.

One sacrifice the criminal gives is that he permanently shifts from the place he or she was residing for long. Remaining hidden without any existence is very difficult and somehow crime branch officers trace the criminal by joining all the dots.

Vacation destinations, strange migrants are constantly under the scrutiny of law enforcement agencies. Small towns are rarely the destinations of strangers and any new face (male or female) will attract a great deal of unwanted attention. Rural areas are even more socially isolated and a new appearance will be the topic of conversation for days, weeks or months.

Unless the criminals are exceptionally skilled at counter-surveillance and escape and evasion, they can’t live unseen, obtaining false identification. Trying to do as such will bring the immediate attention of cops. So, no matter how one tries to hide, they get caught sooner or later.

Plastic surgery would be painful and potentially disfiguring. It could cause serious issues with scarring or infection and it does nothing to solve the problem of your DNA remaining the same. While it could prevent people from recognizing and perhaps even fool facial recognition systems, it would only be a partial solution to the problem.

Under no circumstances can hide anywhere on the globe, no matter how many makeovers they do. The only thing that can save them is not to commit any crime.

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 14 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazine Beyond The News (international). She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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