Sun (Used by permission)
by Jacqueline Ann Surin
KUALA LUMPUR: Despite the rise in fraudulent land transfers, arrests have been few because it is difficult to track down the identity of the fraudsters unless fingerprinting is introduced in property and land dealings.
ACP Tan Kok Liang, who is principal assistant director of the Commercial Crime Investigation Department’s legal/inspectorate division, said more than 50% of those involved in fraudulent land transfers used fictitious names.
“It is very hard to track down the person or the law firm involved. It is also very hard to prove who (falsely) signed a document in a property or land deal,” he said at the 14th Malaysian Law Conference from Oct 29 to 31.
He was commenting on the low rate of arrests regarding cheating cases involving sales and purchase of property or land, when speaking on the topic of property rights under the Malaysian constitution.
Between January and December last year, Tan said, 80 cases worth RM4.9 million were reported to the police, with the highest number of cases found in Sarawak (16), followed by Sabah (14), Perak (nine) and Negri Sembilan (eight).
Only four arrests were made.
Between January and May this year, 49 cases worth RM10.4 million have already been reported.
Selangor and Terengganu had the most number of cases (nine each), followed by Penang and Sarawak (five each). So far, only one arrest has been made.
In July, the Internal Security Ministry said in Parliament that the number of land transfers executed by forged signatures has been on a steady climb since 2001.
Tan said fingerprinting should be introduced in property and land dealings and urged property and land owners to include both their signatures and fingerprints in any transaction involving their land or property.
“Fingerprints are unique – no two persons have been found to
have the same fingerprints,” he said, noting that unlike a person’s signature or
face which may change
over time, a fingerprint can never be changed except through transplants which have not been known to happen.
“Original inked fingerprints have not been known to be forged,” he said, adding that fingerprints could also be used to overcome the possible use of forged MyKad or passports in a transaction.
Tan said while Section 210(2) of the National Land Code 1965 states that owners have the choice of either affixing their thumbprint or signature, both could be affixed simultaneously, especially for the first issued document of title with a copy to be stored at the Land Office.
A scanned copy can also be stored in the Automated Fingerprint Identification System or any other computerised system, he added.
“Any other dealings will involve the fingerprint alongside the signature on the instrument of dealing in the presence of a lawyer,” he said.
He added that in the event of a lost title, the Land Office can only issue a new one upon the appearance of the rightful owner to affix his or her thumbprint on the new duplicate title.
Tan said compared with signatures or personal photographs, people could be easily trained to distinguish different inked fingerprints.
“(With fingerprints), fraud can be easily detected and the fraudsters identified,” he added.
Tan said that with the use of fingerprints, if a fraudulent transaction is still completed, victims may be able to seek compensation from the Land Office or the lawyers who are negligent.