TORONTO - A Canadian woman was forced to strip at the Montreal airport to check a pink tattoo on her butt after her name and birth date matched that of a wanted criminal.
Sylvie Menard, 43, who is a manager with a wine company in Montreal, was returning home after holidaying in Mexico in April when the airport computer flagged her since her name and birth date matched that of a criminal sought by police, the Canadian Press reported Sunday.
She was questioned by a customs official and then taken aside for a thorough screening. After her luggage was checked for drugs, she was read out her rights, handcuffed and taken to a cell.
“I was really stressed… I thought maybe somebody put something in my luggage,” the woman told the news agency.
She said border officials called in police even as she pleaded that they have mistaken her for the criminal. But the worse was yet to come.
A female police officer told to take off her clothes to show whether she had a large pink tattoo - the identification of her namesake criminal - on her butt.
When no tattoo was found on her bottom, she was allowed to put on her clothes. She had hardly dressed when the female officer returned and asked her undress again to make sure that the tattoo was not removed by laser treatment.
Her ordeal ended only when further computer checks showed that her physical description was different from that the wanted criminal. She was let off with the advice to change her name to avoid future problems.
Menard has filed a complaint with the police watchdog and the Canadian border Security Agency (CBSA) to seek an explanation for their conduct.
“They should have enough computer information to verify more than the birth date and the name. It is too basic,” she said.
But with 100 million people entering Canada each year, some confusion is possible, say border authorities.