SINGAPORE — An IT engineer with NCS Singapore who stole 21 laptops meant to manage the COVID-19 pandemic from the Ministry of Health (MOH) was jailed for 11 months on Thursday (5 August).
Muhammad Fakhrurradzi Mohamed Omar, 25, was supposed to reformat or repurpose the laptops but he contacted buyers and sold the devices on Carousell and at shops over two months. He did not make restitution and spent all money he had gained.
Fakhrurradzi pleaded guilty to three out of 10 charges of theft in dwelling, with the remaining taken into consideration for sentencing.
Between 16 December last year and 14 January, Fakhrurradzi accessed the storage room on Level 12 of the MOH Harbourfront Centre office numerous times and stole the laptops as he was in need of money. He was deployed to the office as part of his work.
He took a few laptops each time and would keep his laptops in a spare bag at his cubicle. He then waited for his shift to end before leaving the office with the loot. He also found secondhand laptop shops to sell the laptops, even though some of them were brand new.
MOH's chief information security officer Wong Kok Peng lodged a police report on 15 January after conducting an equipment check and discovering that the laptops overseen by Fakhrurradzi were missing.
The government-issued laptops were provided by the Ministry of Finance, and it was “especially egregious” that Fakhrurradzi stole government property during these times, said DPP Pearly Ang.
They were worth $33,406.04 in total and Fakhrurradzi earned only $6,380 from his sale of the stolen goods. He sold the laptops cheap as they were supposedly secondhand and embedded with a security system. Only two laptops were recovered by the police.
The purpose for the laptops was revealed in response to a question by District Judge Marvin Bay. DPP Ang replied that they were supposed to be used by contracted staff for work related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asked by the DJ if Fakhrurradzi had wiped out the data, DPP Ang said that there was no evidence to suggest that information was transmitted out of MOH, but there was a risk.
Fakhrurradzi’s lawyer Marina Sani said in mitigation that her client had committed the theft for “his family’s survival”. The money from the sale of the laptops was spent on the family’s monthly expenses.
Asking for five months’ jail, Marina said that her client’s family needed him back in the workforce as soon as possible.
The DJ noted the level of brazenness shown by Fakhrurradzi.
“Deterrence sentence is necessary given the accused’s arrangement for the sale of the devices via Carousell. As data breaches can be occasioned, there would also be cybersecurity concerns given that the government-issued laptops will end up in the hands of outsiders,” he said.
Fakhrurradzi could have been jailed up to seven years, and fined for theft in dwelling.
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