They're not just for Halloween any longer.
Expensive, realistic masks - the kind that are the hit of the costume party - are increasingly being used out of season and not always for laughs.
A white bank robber in Ohio recently used a realistic mask made by a small Californian company to disguise himself as a black man, prompting police to mistakenly arrest an African-American man.
In October, a 20-year-old Chinese man who wanted asylum in Canada used one of the company's masks to transform himself into an elderly white man and slip past airport security in Hong Kong. Police are now wondering whether the so-called Geezer Bandit, a Californian bank robber long believed to be an old man, might in fact be a younger male wearing one of the disguises made by SPFX-Masks.
Publicity has pumped up demand for the masks, which cost from $600 to $1200. But the company's owner, Rusty Slusser, says he's not happy about it.
''We're proud of the fact that our masks look real but I'm not proud of the way they were used,'' said Slusser, a 39-year-old former make-up artist. ''We're very embarrassed this has happened.''
Mr Slusser opened SPFX-Masks in 2003. His six-person crew uses silicone that looks and feels like flesh, down to the pores. Each hair strand - all of it the human variety - is sewn on individually.
''I wanted to make something that looks so real that when you go out for Halloween no one can tell,'' Mr Slusser said. ''It's like Mission: Impossible - you pull it over your head one time and that's it. It's like a 10-hour make-up job in 10 seconds.''
Mr Slusser's masks are posing greater challenges for the police but the larger issue remains human nature, says Detective Keenan Riordan, of the Springdale, Ohio, police.
Detective Riordan said: ''It's not SPFX masks or Rusty Slusser that's making these people commit crimes.
Here are some video examples:
This is the company thatmakes em: http://www.spfxmasks.com