Are robbers pretending to be government officers to gain entry to our homes?!
Find out what’s going on, and what the FACTS really are!
Claim : Robbers Are Pretending To Be Government Officers!
People are sharing messages warning of a gang of robbers pretending to be government officers, together with a picture purportedly of one of these robbers.
Here are two versions of the viral warnings being shared on WhatsApp and Facebook :
High Security Alert:
Beware, one group is going from house to house pretending to be a Home Affairs Officer. They have the documents and the letterhead of the department of the home ministry and claim they have to confirm that everyone has a valid identity card for the upcoming census.
They are looting houses. Note that there is no such initiative from the government. Send this to your neighborhood group chat. They are everywhere, and they look presentable. Please alert your family and friends.
A person comes to your home and says I want to take your photo / thumbprint under some schemes. They have a laptop, a biometric machine and a list of all the names. They are showing a list and asking for all this information. It has been pointed out that all this is bogus. Don’t give them any information.
Everyone should be alert and BE AWARE‼️
Security Alert from Police: Be warned, there is a group going to homes and pretending to be officials from home affairs.
They have documents with the letterhead Department of Home Affairs and claim to be confirming that everyone has a valid ID for the upcoming elections.
Truth : Robbers Are NOT Pretending To Be Government Officers
This is just FAKE NEWS. There is no gang of robbers pretending to be government officers!
Fact #1 : Warning Originated In South Africa
The original warning about fake government officials originated in South Africa, many years ago.
The South African Department of Home Affairs issued this media statement in October 2017 and April 2019 :
MEDIA STATEMENT ON ELECTIONS SCAM
Home Affairs wishes to warn members of the community of a group of individuals visiting homes and pretending to be officials from the Department.
They carry with them documents with letterheads purportedly from Home Affairs and claim to be confirming the validity of IDs for the upcoming elections. These individuals are criminals who rob households once they gain entry. There is no such initiative from the Department.
Home affairs officials are clearly identifiable by name tags. We will announce household visits through official
This warning was only issued in South Africa. No government agency from other countries issued similar warnings.
Fact #2 : Warning Transformed Into Fake News
The genuine warning by the South African Department of Home Affairs spread globally, and became fake news in other countries.
Many countries do not have a Department of Home Affairs. Neither do they have government officials going around verifying citizens’ identification cards ahead of any elections.
Even worse – some people took the initiative to modify the warning, and even added pictures of genuine government officials to make the warning look genuine.
Government agencies in many countries – United States, United Kingdom, India, Singapore, Malaysia – have labelled this warning as fake news.
Fact #3 : Malaysian Immigration Officer Was Victimised
In July 2021, a Malaysian immigration officer bore the brunt of netizen outrage when he was falsely identified as a fake Home Affairs officer – his picture was shared on social media and WhatsApp together with the warning.
The Malaysia Immigration Department and the Royal Malaysia Police announced on 13 July 2021, that the man in the photo was a genuine Immigration officer.
According to Ampang District Police Chief, ACP Mohamad Farouk Ishak, the Immigration officer was conducting an official investigation into an individual staying at a house in Pandan Indah, Ampang.
The Immigration officer introduced himself and inform the residents of the purpose of his visit. The 60 year-old Malaysian homeowner who hosted the Immigration officer during his inspection also lodged a police report over the matter.
From the picture, you can clearly see that the officer was wearing a t-shirt with the Immigration Department HQ logo, and carried an Immigration Malaysia badge as well.
Fact #4 : Fake Story Now Circulating With New Photo
In September 2022, the same fake warning went viral again on WhatsApp, this time with a new photo of two Malaysian officers who appeared to have served some kind of official paper to a homeowner.
While I cannot yet trace the provenance of this photo, or the context behind it, these officers are definitely not attempting to gain entry to the person’s home by falsely identifying themselves as Home Affairs officers.
Again, the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) has repeatedly announced that this story of robbers posing as Home Affairs officers is fake news.
Fact #5 : No Actual Robbery Cases Were Reported
Even though the South African Department of Home Affairs issued the warning twice, it is unknown if there are really robbers pretending to be government officials to gain entry into homes.
Ironically, acting Director-General Thulani Mavuso claimed that the South African Department of Home Affairs never actually received any complaint about such crimes :
Home Affairs has not received any complaint of this nature from members of the public. People who are aware of such an activity, depending on it veracity, are advised to report it to the police.
We reiterate our message that Home Affairs officials do not and will not come to your homes to validate IDs.
It sounds like the South African Department of Home Affairs were proactively warning people about the possibility, not reporting on actual cases.
Fact #6 : Safer For Robbers To Rob Empty Houses
Robbers generally prefer NOT to rob homes while their occupants are still inside. Not only could the occupants fight back, they would become witnesses to the crime and help the police identify them!
It would be much safer to gain entry into a house after its occupants have left.
Fact #7 : There Are Other Ways To Gain Entry
Robbers who prefer to gain entry through this method do not need to pretend to be government officers.
They can pretend to be utility workers, the mailman or a deliveryman. There is no particular advantage in pretending to be a government official.
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.
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