Dubai: Do not sign a cheque in which the amount and other details are filled in by someone else because they could be using a ‘magic pen’ which has disappearing ink, warned Dubai Police.
Ten cases of people falling victim to scams involving cheques signed with such “magic pens” have been reported since January, said Dubai Police.
The magic pens, which is illegal to use, has a kind of ink that disappears after two hours of use. So if you owe someone money and they fill in the details for you while you sign, it is possible that when the magic ink disappears, you have gifted someone a blank cheque, which they use to rewrite a different sum of money.
The cheque is then encashed using a third party.
Lt Colonel Dr Ali Khalifa Al Falasi, director of Documents Scan Section at the General Department of Forensic Science and Criminology in Dubai Police, said that the lab was referred 10 cases of magic pen fraud this year.
“People should use their own pens while signing and writing cheques or documents and never put their signature on cheques written by others,” Lt Col Al Falasi said.
“The fraudsters write cheque details using the magic pen and ask the victim to sign it. After two hours, only the signature of the victim remains,” he added said.
In some cases, the victims were approached by individuals who posed as bank representatives.
However, Lt Col Al Falasi said that they scan the documents and cheques with latest technologies using certain type of radiation and filters to assess what was originally written with the disappearing ink and the changes made.
He stressed the importance of raising awareness in society especially with bank clients and business owners about the magic pen.
UAE authorities recently tightened their grip on irresponsible lending and borrowing in the country, with the issuance of a new circular by the Central Bank saying that banks are now mandated to do checks on the customer’s credit history or background before releasing chequebooks. This is to ensure that users of cheques won’t default on any debt obligations or payments.
Financial institutions are also encouraged to advise consumers to minimise the use of cheques and use other payment methods instead.
“Before issuing customers with chequebooks, banks are now required to carry out checks with the Al Etihad Credit Bureau to ensure the creditworthiness of their customers,” the central bank said in a statement on Monday.
From January to April this year, more than 7.16 million cheques worth Dh351.1 billion were processed by the UAE Clearing Cheque System, up by 29.7 per cent from the same period last year.
The value of bounced cheques, however, has declined to Dh15.7 billion.
Lt Col Al Falasi said his department handled 1,219 different cases this year and solved forgery cases involving credit cards, resident visas and European driver licences.