SA ID book 'one of the easiest in world' to forge

March 2003 Security Services & Risk Management

The South African ID book is one of the easiest in the world to forge due to its lack of security features, and with at the very least several thousand such fakes in circulation, has become a serious fraud and security risk for this country.

"South African banks lost nearly R4 billion to fraud last year alone," says Jenny Reid, managing director of GriffithsReid, a corporate security management company which specialises in employee screening and background verification.

"The recent case of Derek Bond, the British pensioner falsely identified by the FBI as one of its most wanted men, has once again highlighted the appalling lack of security in ID books the world over," Reid says. Bond was detained on the strength of the real fugitive having assumed his British identity in an international ID theft scam.

"Stealing a foreign national's ID requires a degree of skill due to their built in security measures, but the South African ID books can be forged by simply cutting out the bearer's photograph and replacing it with another," she says.

The new driver's licence and SA passport are far more secure forms of identification, as they carry a large number of cross check security features, in marked contrast to the ID book.

"In reality, the South African ID book is fast becoming one of more unreliable means of identification, and we recommend to our clients that they ask for more than just an ID book when employing a person, or doing business with unknown people," says Reid. Fake ID books can be purchased for as little as R100 a piece on the black market, she adds.

Although there are no accurate estimates of the number of faked ID books in circulation, police figures of reported ID book thefts, when added to reports of ID book scams uncovered in the Department of Home Affairs - where corrupt officials sell new ID books - means that there are at the very least tens of thousands of fake ID books in circulation.

Reid says that there are two ways to prevent this sort of fraud from being perpetrated: firstly, start using more safe forms of identification such as the driver's licence and passport, and secondly, by immediately reporting the theft of ID books to police and financial institutions.

For more information contact Jenny Reid, GriffithsReid, 011 786 8556.

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