KOTA KINABALU: The national registration department believes it has crippled a major fake identity syndicate in Sabah with the arrest of a 52-year-old woman believed to be the syndicate’s agent early this morning.
The department’s director-general, Mohammad Razin Abdullah, said at a press conference in Sandakan today that the woman, who had in her possession several documents including birth certificates and fake identification documents, was arrested following a month-long surveillance.
“She was detained during a joint operation with the police and immigration department held at the Sedco Industrial estate, Mile 2 ½ today. We also arrested two foreigners in the same operation for various offences,” he said.
Razin said they confiscated an account book belonging to the woman and found several large transactions, including ones amounting to RM60,000.
However, the department has yet to determine the full amount with the bank as the investigation is still underway.
Razin revealed the department also conducted a similar operation in Tawau five days ago and arrested one man and 10 women for various offences, including possessing fake IDs, giving false information when presenting the IDs and using IDs that were not theirs.
He said the sole male suspect in Tawau was also being held to assist investigations into a fake ID ring in the country involving nationals from Pakistan.
Razin said the agents charged Indonesians and Filipinos between RM300 and RM6,000 for the forged documents while Pakistanis had to fork out between RM30,000 and RM50,000 for the same documents.
“Usually, the buyers from the Philippines and Indonesia will gather in one location and they will be issued with forged documents so they can travel to the peninsula to work there.
“As for the Pakistanis, they would usually come from the peninsula and would like to stay in Sabah. So, they would usually buy birth certificates of children who had died but whose family, usually poor, did not declare their death,” he said, adding that such cases were found in Semporna, Kunak and Lahad Datu.
These birth certificates, he said, would be sold to the agents by the deceased’s parents or families, usually for around RM2,000 and the agents would then sell them to the Pakistan nationals.
He said in the case of the woman who was arrested this morning, she would hang out in a restaurant downtown waiting for potential clients and would target newcomers from the Philippines.
Asked how these documents could pass the scrutiny of the department, Razin said all the details in the documents had already been certified because these were issued by the department in the past, such as the birth certificates for the deceased children.
“The department views the cases of parents selling birth certificates to syndicates seriously. They can be jailed if found guilty. In fact, we have taken the necessary action against four of them in Tawau,” he said.
He admitted, however, that such syndicates would continue their operations because of the high demand.
“Maybe working on these arrests, we will be able to get to others whose networks are bigger,” he said.