Singapore fingers deported fraudster for leak of list of thousands of HIV

Pearl Mccarthy
January 30, 2019

Confidential data about more than 14,000 people diagnosed with HIV, including foreign visitors, has been stolen in Singapore and leaked online.

Officials say the details of 5,400 Singaporeans and 8,800 foreigners dating up to January 2013 have been compromised.

Singapore police warned people against sharing the patients' information.

Brochez was sentenced to 28 months in jail in 2017 for offenses related to him using his partner's blood sample in place of his own for an HIV test that would have affected his employment status.

"As the head of MOH's National Public Health Unit from March 2012 to May 2013, Ler had authority to access information in the HIV Registry as required for his work", the statement said.

"I am sorry that one of our former staff who was authorized to have access to confidential information in our HIV registry appears to not have complied with our security guidelines", Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said.

In May 2016, MOH was alerted that Brochez illegally possessed confidential information from the HIV Registry. "Our priority is the well-being of the affected individuals", it added, saying that it has been contacting affected individuals to inform and help them since Saturday, and that it has worked with relevant parties to disable access to the information.

The country's Ministry of Health (MoH) said it had been aware since 2016 that one Mikhy Farrera Brochez could be in possession of the information, but it had not announced this because Brochez had not published anything.

Confidential information including names, addresses, HIV status and other medical information is reportedly included in the latest breach.

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Brochez is now under police investigation, and the authorities are seeking assistance from their foreign counterparts, according to the ministry statement, which did not specify any country.

The leak comes months after Singapore revealed the worst cyber attack in its history after hackers infiltrated the government health database.

He also said officials believe Farrera-Brochez was overseas, but do not know where.

"Police will not hesitate to take stern action, including prosecution, against those who have breached the OSA".

He was convicted in September past year of abetting Farrera-Brochez to cheat and of providing false information to the police and Ministry of Health (MOH). But the police did not know that the American still has the data stored somewhere.

Meanwhile, Ler was charged in 2016 under the Penal Code and Official Secrets Act (OSA). Ler was sentenced to 24 months in jail, but has since filed an appeal, which is expected to be heard in March. It had, however, notified the individuals affected. But he does not have a practising certificate or access to MOH and public healthcare IT systems with patient records.

Only when the police notified MOH last week (22 Jan) that the confidential information possessed by Farrera-Brochez has been leaked online that MOH made a decision to inform the public yesterday.

The Ministry of Health says the leak source has been "disabled", but if Brochez retained personal copies of the data it may surface again.

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