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Jail for IT engineer who stole 21 laptops from MOH meant for Covid-19 work, sold most on Carousell

SINGAPORE — An information-technology engineer stole 21 laptops from the Ministry of Health (MOH) that were intended for use in the nation’s fight against Covid-19.

Jail for IT engineer who stole 21 laptops from MOH meant for Covid-19 work, sold most on Carousell

The laptops that Muhammad Fakhrurradzi Mohamed Omar stole were collectively valued at more than S$33,000. He made S$6,380 from selling most of them online via Carousell.

  • Muhammad Fakhrurradzi Mohamed Omar stole 21 government-issued laptops collectively valued at more than S$33,000
  • He sold most of them on Carousell
  • He said he stole the items because he was in need of money
  • The judge said the court takes a very serious view of the theft of government property, which are derived from taxpayers’ monies

 

SINGAPORE — An information-technology engineer stole 21 laptops from the Ministry of Health (MOH) that were intended for use in the nation’s fight against Covid-19.

Muhammad Fakhrurradzi Mohamed Omar, 25, was jailed for 11 months on Thursday (Aug 5) after pleading guilty to three charges of theft. Seven other similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

He stole the items between December last year and January this year, the court heard. He said that he did it because he was in need of money.

While not a direct employee of MOH, he was working for an agency engaged by information-technology firm NCS, which is contracted to provide IT support for MOH’s branch office at Harbourfront Centre, his lawyer Marina Sani said.

The stolen laptops were collectively valued at more than S$33,000. Fakhrurradzi made a total of S$6,380 from selling most of them through online marketplace Carousell. 

The police recovered only two laptops upon his arrest.

When meting out the sentence, District Judge Marvin Bay said that the court takes a very serious view of the theft of government property, given that they were derived from taxpayers’ monies — especially when it involves electronic devices intended for use in MOH’s Covid-19 operations.

“There is certainly a level of brazenness here in the manner of commission of the offences from the fact (that the items) have been taken from the 12th floor of MOH’s premises at Harbourfront Centre.”

The judge noted as well that the case involved some premeditation because Fakhrurradzi did not take a large number of laptops at a go, but several devices each time. 

“Deterrent sentences are necessary given the accused’s arrangements for the sale of devices via Carousell, as data breaches can be occasioned,” he added. 

“There would also be cyber-security concerns given that government-issued laptops will end up in the hands of outsiders.”

WHAT HE DID

Court documents stated that Fakhrurradzi gained access to a storage room on the 12th floor of MOH’s office in Harbourfront Centre numerous times and took out the laptops without consent between Dec 16 last year and Jan 14 this year.

To not arouse suspicions, he took a few laptops each time he was there.

After taking the laptops, he would return to his cubicle and keep them in a spare bag. He would then wait for his shift to end before leaving with the devices.

In his cubicle, he would also search online for shops that take in second-hand laptops.

The court heard that Fakhrurradzi eventually shortlisted three contacts, based on the price quotations given for the laptops. 

To avoid questions from the potential buyers, he would inform the contacts that the laptops he was selling were second-hand goods, even though he knew that some of the laptops were brand new.

MOH eventually discovered his deeds after conducting a check on its equipment.

Its chief information security officer Wong Kok Peng, 45, filed a police report at about 7.50pm on Jan 15 this year after finding that the laptops left in Fakhrurradzi’s charge were missing.

In seeking at least 12 months’ jail for Fakhrurradzi, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Pearly Ang said that the laptops were to be used by contracted workers hired to manage the Covid-19 situation. 

Fakhrurradzi was placed in charge of a number of the laptops, which he would reformat and assign for use as per MOH’s instructions.

DPP Ang added that it is “especially egregious” that he had stolen government property during these times.

However, she believes that no data was leaked in relation to this case, although she acknowledged that there could be a risk of such a leak.

Fakhrurradzi could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined on each theft charge.

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crime court steal theft laptops MOH Covid-19

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