Does Plastic Surgery Ever Help Criminals Evade Manhunts?

The BBC published a story earlier this year about a South Korean man who embezzled more than US$4 million and then tried to disappear movie villain-style–he had plastic surgery to alter his appearance.

Police say the man, surnamed Yoon, had a nose job and a face lift.

. . .

A police spokeswoman told AFP that Mr Yoon was “a totally different person” when he was arrested.

“He’d had a nose and eye job, and his face had changed drastically,” the spokeswoman added.

Mr. Yoon made the mistake of changing his appearance but not his associates, and was apparently tracked down after his accomplices were arrested.

In Yoon’s case the plastic surgery was pointless–as best I can make out, Yoon disappeared with his millions in January, and was in police custody by February. Has the “change your face” maneuver ever worked successfully?

I’d think Boston mobster Whitey Bulger hit upon the optimal fugitive strategy. Bulger didn’t drastically change his appearance, nor did he live the life of a recluse, but he did apparently cut all ties with family and friends. Bulger managed to remain a fugitive for 16 years, including 12 years on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

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