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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Sharjah Police warn public against scams involving 'magic pen'

Police said scammers have been writing cheques using ink that disappears between an hour and four days 

Ten cases of people falling victim to a scam involving cheques signed with a “magic pen” have been reported since January, prompting a warning from Sharjah Police.

Police said scammers would write cheques using the illegal pen but the ink would disappear between one hour and four days after it was used.

Brig Dr Abdul Qader Al Ameri, Director-General of Sharjah Police’s forensic laboratory, said he noticed an increase in forgery and fraud cases using the pens, which were referred to his lab.

“In all cases, the victims were approached by individuals who claimed to be bank representatives offering bank services,” said Brig Dr Al Ameri.

He said the victims were offered zero interest rate credit cards and “after signing on the cheques, the ink most likely disappeared due to either volatilization or exposure to heat”.

After the cheques were cashed, the victims would visit the banks only to find out that they were scammed.

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Brig Dr Al Ameri said his team performs tests on the documents which reveal the original text written using the magic pen and the changes made after the ink disappeared.

“It takes up to twenty days to finalise all tests on the altered documents before submitting a detailed report to the public prosecution,’’ he said.

In April 2011, UAE’s Central Bank had issued a warning to banks about the pens, saying they had been smuggled into the country.

Dubai police’s criminal administration department followed suit with a warning to the public.

“Fraudsters who pretend to be bank representatives and convince their victims that they are applying for loans or credit cards, use legitimate forms, then they have their victims write guarantee cheques using these special pens. Once the ink disappears, the perpetrator changes the name of the beneficiary and cashes the cheque,” said Abdulla Galadari, Partner at Galadari Advocates & Legal Associates.

Mr Galadari said that according to article (399) of the UAE Penal Code, any individual who, by using fraudulent practice, assuming a false name or quality, takes possession for himself or for others of any movable property or written instrument, or obtains any signature upon such instrument, its cancellation, destruction or amendment, whenever it is intended to deceive the victim and bring him to surrender a legal right, is to be punished by confinement or fine.

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