Robberies Shock 'Hyper-Real' Mask Firm

Company's sales soar after masks make the news
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2010 1:59 AM CST
A young Chinese man used this SPFXMasks disguise to board a plane to Vancouver from Hong Kong.   (AP Photo/Canada Border Services Agency)

(Newser) – Sales have soared for a California company that makes ultra-realistic masks — but its owner isn't happy about the way success has arrived. SPFXMasks earned plenty of free publicity when its creations were used by a young Chinese man who posed as an elderly white man to fool immigration, and by a white bank robber who wore an African-American mask so realistic that six of seven bank tellers wrongly picked a black man whose face resembled the mask out of a lineup.

"We're proud of the fact that our masks look real, but I'm not proud of the way they were used," the company's owner, a former makeup artist, tells the Los Angeles Times. "We're very embarrassed this has happened. We were shocked that this happened." Customers for the masks, which cost as much as $1,200, include theme parks, TV shows, and a few Hollywood celebrities who put them on to dodge paparazzi. Authorities suspect another customer may be California's Geezer Bandit.

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