More tech, so higher chance of ID theft

Cases of identity theft are not that uncommon in Singapore, say lawyers The New Paper on Sunday spoke to.

On average, they see two to three cases a year. And the figure is expected to rise, says criminal lawyer Choo Zheng Xi, who saw three or four cases in the past two years.

He says: "With increased prevalence of technology to effect transaction, it will happen more often."

On Wednesday, it was announced that 1,500 SingPass passwords had been reset. It is yet unclear whether there has been more impact.

Ms Gloria James, a lawyer with Gloria James-Civetta & Co who has seen about 20 cases of identity theft in seven years, says identity theft comes in different forms and can take place in a variety of settings.

Some of the common cases her law firm has seen involved online Internet fraud, cross-border money laundering and unauthorised use of credit cards.

Most times, the perpetrators are financially motivated, she says.

Ms James' husband, too, fell prey to an identity thief. She says: "He had his identity stolen and the culprit went into his bank account online, changed his mobile number, reset the PIN and went on to draw monies from his account in Melbourne, when at all times he was in Singapore."

She puts the sums of money involved in credit card fraud to as much as $100,000, while cheque forgery could go higher.

"But online stolen identity, where one is deceived to transfer money to the culprit, can hit more than a million dollars," she says.

Lawyer Salem Ibrahim says the identity thieves' success can be thwarted if the bank's safeguards and protocols are strong.

He says: "Where the perpetrator succeeds, it is because the bank's officer have been convinced by the perpetrator."