Do you know you are always a target of someone unless you realise. There are thousands of people out there looking for small opportunities to grab whether their move is illegal or legal. As you must know that most of our work is now digital yet being a developing country the age of documents (in other words- offline work) hasn’t ended.
To protect ourselves we must be aware of such frauds which are not possible without some knowledge or information regarding the piece of document. Every fraudster is looking for a small mistake to use your information for their own benefit.
Since the earliest of ages documents are forged for the purpose of fraudster’s benefit. For example change in seals, signature, alteration in writing/content of a document, etc.
Titus and Anthony were the most famous and skilled forgers of Rome in the 6th century when the first case of questioned documents was reported.
With criminals coming up with new ideas of frauds leaving no traces of their identification, we cannot rely upon law every time to save us. Having reliable information about examination of documents can help everyone to protect themselves from ever-increasing crimes.
Why the knowledge about documents is important?
Let’s start with the simplest of examples i.e., Currency notes. We being responsible for ourselves take it on ourselves to identify the authenticity of the documents by examining the identification features of a currency such as:-
- See-through register
- Latent image
- Denomination Numeral
- Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait
- Micro letters
- Security thread
- Signature of Governor
- Watermark of Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait
- Number panel
- Denomination Numeral
- Ashok pillar emblem
- Small horizontal rectangle with ₹2000 in raised print
- Bleed lines (For blind people)
Do you know that there are more than 12 security features of a currency note and the above-given features are some of them. A normal citizen identifies only 2-3 features to authenticate it.
It’s the same with our documents such as passport, cheque, wills, contracts, etc. whose information is required to get away with any kind of fraud.
Imagine if the fraudster copies all the normal security features, would you be able to tell the difference between an original and fake currency. The case is the same with other documents as well.
You need to have a better understanding and reliable information about cheques and other documents.
There is a famous quote by the famous theorist ‘Algernon Sidney’ and he quoted that “God helps those who help themselves”. This quote can be applied in all phases of a person’s life.
It is somewhat true that we won’t be able to help ourselves to a perfect disguised document without expert knowledge yet in most of the cases we can help ourselves by being cautious. Forgery is the most common crime related to documents committed by criminals.
In simpler terms, Forgery of a document is known as copying a signature, handwriting, art, currency, stamp, etc. Any person in relation with the victim or a stranger may be able to forge a document by your name for his own benefits.
You can relate it with the simplest example. In childhood, many children try to copy the signatures of their guardians on the diary or the test sheets to avoid punishment from them.
Similarly, criminals try to forge contracts, wills, cheques, passports, etc. As children are unprofessional in this work, the forgery in the document can be detected, but, criminals copy documents with utmost care to avoid any kind of detection yet it can be detected with some knowledge and study.
Forgery is in practice for many centuries now and is still continuously growing with criminals coming up with new ideas to avoid detection of fraud and detention by the criminal law system.
A professional forger leaves no ends loose to make it undetectable yet in most of the cases, a document examiner uses all his experience and knowledge to detect any kind of alteration in a document.
Even after the detection of forgery in a document, the person responsible is not detected in most of the cases and is possible that the next time they would be more careful.
A fraudster forges a document to achieve different objectives which would be beneficial to him. Different documents forged and the aims of that forgery include:-
1. Counterfeiting Currency/seals
Faking currency notes and seals is a common crime in which a forger tries to make a copy of seal or currency. Currency, however, cannot be faked completely as many different features used in it are usually able to process only through RBI. Seals are also faked by making a copy to use them on contracts, wills without having any authority of using them.
These kinds of crimes are punishable under section 467 of the Indian Penal code.
2. Signature Forgery
The criminal tries to forge signatures to use them illegally for his/her own benefits. These forged signatures are used in Banks to withdraw money, contracts, wills, on some document to alter the birth date, alteration of facts, authenticate some document, etc.
Copying a perfect signature is a very difficult task as the signature of one person is generated based on his mindset and flow of his/her hands which is unique to other persons. However, with sufficient practice, it can be achieved and there are many criminals in society working as a professional forger.
Therefore, caution is required at all times.
3. Addition/Subtraction in documents
While using pen we make mistakes and therefore cut it and write on another page or overwrite on the wrong sentence to correct it. It is known as subtraction and addition and is used by the criminals to their benefits.
Whenever a legal document of yours is thrown or used, make sure to keep it safe or tear fine so that it won’t be used against you. The addition is commonly seen in cheques where the forger adds another number to increase the amount.
For example:- You are trying to withdraw an amount of 40,000 rupees from your account. The forger uses it as an opportunity to add another zero making it 4,00,000 if there is some space left.
Subtraction can be seen in wills where the forger might use the signature to his own benefit to subtract your name from the will or contract to get the complete money for him.
4. Identity Theft
In this kind of forgery, a fraudster uses the identity of some other person and uses his personal data for their gains. This kind of forgery is treated as deceptive imitation forgery.
Identity theft can be done by copying other’s personal information including name, occupation, signature, etc. to get some work done using a high profile, steal money, and many others.
Tips to avoid frauds
- Never leave empty space in a legal or financial document.
- Don’t throw important page without destroying it.
- Never sign on a blank page.
- Tear your financial details after use (such as ATM pin, unused and signed cheques, etc.).
- Signature should be difficult with free flow of hands.
- Avoid giving any details to anyone.
- Use more security features to detect fake currency and passports.
- Read any legal document carefully before signing them.
Crime related documents are increasing at a faster pace even though the laws are stricter, Forensic scientists work hard and try to detect forgery using handwriting, pen or printer characteristics yet these forgers come up with new ideas to cope with them and make it undetectable.
Therefore, it is upon us to take care of ourselves by being cautious and never rely upon others to do our work and thus, avoiding any chance of being a victim of a forgery.