Abu Dhabi: People who fake certificates to get a visa or a job face up to ten years in prison, an official has warned. Meanwhile, those who photocopy official documents and tamper with them face up to five years in jail, the official said.

Forgery of educational certificates constituted around 40 per cent of all document fraud cases during the first half of this year, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) announced on Tuesday. The Public Prosecution referred 100 cases involving the falsification of documents — with counterfeit degrees and educational certificates — representing around half of them.

A source at the Public Prosecution said: “This has become a phenomenon committed mainly by those of Asian nationality as they try to find jobs or visas in the country that correspond to the falsified degree they claim to have. The forgery is usually discovered as these individuals give in their degrees to foreign affairs offices for attestation.”

Suspects face charges of forging an official document, faking a stamp, and attempting to use the fake document.

The source also advised the public to be wary of unverified websites that have contributed to the rising numbers of such cases. “The advertisements usually target those wanting qualifications without having to enrol in a university causing people to fall for these lies and place themselves in legal trouble,” the official added.

These websites usually seek those who are looking for jobs and may even attempt to send them e-mails.

Gulf News earlier reported about a recently married Pakistani man who was charged with forging his educational certificate to impress his father-in-law. He had reportedly faked an engineering degree from a university in his home country. However, when he tried to get it attested from the Ministry of Higher Education, he was apprehended and referred to court.

Unlicensed realtors can also be involved in cases where false contracts are used and legal experts have advised the public to ensure they deal with verified individuals.