ID theft cases on the rise in SA

Langelihle Chagwe

Langelihle Chagwe

Identity document theft and impersonation are increasing in South Africa and now the country compares with the US and Europe.

"It is common knowledge that the problems associated with identity document theft and impersonation are increasing in South Africa as is the case in America and Europe," said Patrick Cunningham of the South African Fraud Prevention Services.

Cunningham said last year the service prevented more than R800million from being stolen fraudulently and protected hundreds of people from impersonation through the protective registration service.

Cunningham's comments follow an ID theft case in which ABSA in Germiston, Ekurhuleni, said it was planning to help Mojalefa Mofokeng, 42, who lost his ID when thieves broke into his house.

Mofokeng discovered that a loan had been obtained fraudulently through his ID.

Lindiwe Koeshe of the ABSA sales department advised Mofokeng to go to the bank's Germiston branch with his ID to lodge a formal complaint so that they could investigate the matter.

Mofokeng told Sowetan that it was discovered that the alleged fraudster Sifiso Timane worked for a mine in Primrose.

Timane was caught when ABSA phoned his supervisor at the mine to confirm his employment status.

But to the supervisor's surprise, the name on the ID was that of Mofokeng and not Timane's.

Mofokeng said his ID was also used to borrow money from loan sharks.

Timane's former supervisor told Sowetan that Timane was arrested on May 27 and deported to his home country, Mozambique.

He had in fact used Mofokeng's ID to get the job at the mine.

Mofokeng said he feared his ID might have been used in other fraudulent transactions.

"We are identifying in excess of 25 fraud syndicates a week through our system and everybody needs to take extra care of their identity documents," said Cunningham.

He urged people who had lost their IDs to go for protective registration.

"To register obtain an affidavit or police case number if the ID has been stolen.

"Check your profile at the credit bureaus at least once a year to ensure that nobody hasbeen trying to obtain credit under your name.

He said people with access to the Internet could also register online and ensure that they were protected.