Identity theft by brother lands him in big trouble

Mr Rizal shows a photo of a duplicate driving licence (the one above) with his name and IC number, but with his brother Redzuan's photo. The driving licence below is his real licence. Redzuan has impersonated his younger sibling on over a dozen occas
Mr Rizal shows a photo of a duplicate driving licence (the one above) with his name and IC number, but with his brother Redzuan's photo. The driving licence below is his real licence. Redzuan has impersonated his younger sibling on over a dozen occasions over four years.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Older brother gets more jail time after mix-ups over the years cause younger sibling much grief

In the last five years, he has been wrongfully arrested while trying to leave Singapore, summoned to court to pay a $15,000 bail he did not put up, and had his identity fraudulently used to apply for jobs.

Mr Mohammad Rizal Mohd Sabri, 27, a delivery rider, has had to explain himself time and again to the authorities - because his older brother had been impersonating him.

While his sibling Muhammad Redzuan Mohd Sabri, 28, had been sentenced to jail last year for the impersonation offences, it did not spell the end of trouble for Mr Rizal.

On Wednesday, Redzuan pleaded guilty in court to three new charges, with three others taken into consideration. The charges include impersonating Mr Rizal to change his SingPass password, and applying for duplicate driving licences. 

Redzuan, who was on the same day sentenced to eight months' jail, was also found to have misappropriated $700 from a courier company he worked for - a crime which resulted in Mr Rizal being arrested at the Woodlands checkpoint in January. He was transferred to the Bedok Police Division and questioned before being let off.

Mr Naresh Kumar Maryapan, the director of the courier firm, Saiwah Enterprise, said he verified through police photographs that they had arrested the wrong person. He added: "The man who took the $700 had applied for a job using a photocopy of Mr Rizal's NRIC and a driving licence made in Mr Rizal's name."

MISUSED IDENTITY 

My reputation was tarnished... We don't talk any more. He has caused me a lot of trouble.

MR MOHAMMAD RIZAL MOHD SABRI, on how his older brother's impersonation offences have soured their relationship

While Redzuan will go to jail again - he has already served a 17-month sentence and been fined $700 for various offences - the mix-ups over the years have caused Mr Rizal much grief.

Redzuan has impersonated his younger sibling on over a dozen occasions over four years.

"My reputation was tarnished," said Mr Rizal.

Redzuan began impersonating his younger brother in 2011, lodging a police report to say that he lost a wallet, NRIC and driving licence. Redzuan used this report to identify himself as his brother, to further his "impersonation exploits", court documents read. A year later, he took Mr Rizal's driving licence. Mr Rizal told police that his military identity card and a photocopy of his NRIC also went missing.

Redzuan found employment in 2013 as a delivery driver in two different companies and registered a mobile phone line in Mr Rizal's name - racking up a bill of over $1,300. In 2014, Redzuan used a photocopy of Mr Rizal's NRIC to post a $15,000 bail for an accused person. Mr Rizal said he was shocked to be summoned to court when the accused person, whom he does not know, jumped bail. That year, Redzuan also made his brother take the rap after he was caught driving a lorry without a licence.

The incidents have soured their relationship. Mr Rizal said with a sigh: "We don't talk any more. He has caused me a lot of trouble."

He cannot change his identification number, but Mr Rizal plans to change his name in September to stop his identity from being misused.

Security experts said Mr Rizal's case illustrates the need for individuals to safeguard their personal information, like NRIC numbers and identity cards, which can be misused if they fall into the wrong hands.

Mr T. Mogan, managing director of Dragnet Private Investigation and Security Consultants, said: "If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft, immediately go to the police and let them know to whom and when you divulged your personal information ."

Mr David Ng, director of DP Quest Investigation Consultancy, said that as a driving licence bears the same identification number as an IC, many banks and authorities accept it as a valid form of identification. "Checks by service providers may not be stringent enough."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2016, with the headline 'Identity theft by brother lands him in big trouble'. Print Edition | Subscribe