Thieves fool smartphone facial recognition to steal Chinese man’s life savings


Facial recognition technology holds a ubiquitous presence in China. With the advancement of smart systems, many regular activities have seen radical enhancements. The activities include tracking criminals, punishing jaywalkers, making payments, and securing numerous mobile devices. But, technology is a tricky thing to deal with. As much as the technology is providing assistance to the users, the vulnerability of security is increasing by the day.


Recently, a pair of thieves, the victim’s roommates, managed to unlock a sleeping man’s smartphone. The thieves managed to fool the facial recognition technology on the victim’s phone to unlock and launder money. The user was stripped off a significant amount of more than RMB 12,000 (around $1,800) due to the faulty facial recognition technology. The robbery was executed when the victim was asleep and the thief unlocked the phone to transfer money using WeChat. The smartphone brand was not identified but police said it cost around RMB 1,000.


However, the theft highlights the dangers of facial recognition when not implemented effectively. The device in question did not employ iris-scanning technology, allowing it to be unlocked even when its owner’s eyes were closed. Unsecured biometric data also poses a huge risk if it is leaked. Unlike passwords, which can be amended, facial data cannot be changed once compromised, making just one breach risky.