Man Lifts His Sleeping Ex-Girlfriend’s Eyelids to Unlock Her Phone, Stealing $24,000

The man got past security features to access his ex-girlfriend’s digital wallet when she was asleep.
Facial recognition payment
A man exploited smartphones’ facial recognition feature to steal money. Photo: FRED DUFOUR/AFP via Getty Images

A Chinese man has been jailed for lifting her sleeping ex-girlfriend’s eyelids to unlock her phone, so he could steal money from her digital wallet. 

The man in the southern city of Nanning, surnamed Huang, was recently sentenced to 3.5 years in prison and fined 20,000 ($3,100) for stealing about 154,000 Chinese yuan ($24,200) from his ex-girlfriend’s mobile payment account, according to Nanning Evening News.


The 28-year-old visited his ex-girlfriend, surnamed Dong, in December last year, after telling her he wanted to return some money he borrowed while they were dating, the report said.

Dong was sick at the time, and Huang prepared food and cold medicine. After the woman fell asleep, however, Huang put her finger on her smartphone to unlock the device, and then lifted her eyelids to pass the facial recognition check on payment app Alipay. 

Then he transferred money from her savings account and credit services to his own account, took away her phone and a coat, and used the fund on living expenses and covering his gambling debts. 

Dong woke up the next morning, and saw the transfer records on her other phone. She made a report to police after failing to reach her ex-boyfriend. Huang, who fled to another city, was arrested in April this year, the report said.

The case went viral on Chinese internet over the weekend, and prompted discussion on the security lags of facial recognition checks.

Some social media users suggested turning off fingerprint and facial payment functions, while sticking with passwords.

In response to the case, a customer service representative told news outlet Yishou Video that Alipay would offer compensation in the rare case of theft, and users could turn on multiple locks to enhance security.

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Correction: This article originally misstated the length of the jail sentence as 3.6 years. We regret the error.