Document related crimes are the common types of crimes in which the criminals try to change the documents for their benefit. One of the common kind of crime committed is Forgery which also comes under white-collar crimes. White-collar crimes refer to those crimes which are done for financial gain, mostly done by businesses and government officials until discovered. Forgery is a very common crime in any country and if caught is punished by the court of law.
Introduction to Forgery
A Forgery is a criminal act in which a person tries to alter or falsify a document by changing the content or genuine signatures which are done with a motive of deceiving another person’s entity or identity. However, photocopies and replicas are not considered under Forgery, except, if any alteration is done in any of those documents.
Forged currency is common and it is termed as counterfeiting and the intent of committing such crime is to defraud another person. Common examples include Alteration in cheques, wills, contracts, orders, tampering the signatures, etc.
Common Features of Forgery
- The slow pace in signatures and writings
- Blunt initial and Final strokes
- Change in Size of letters
- Unusual Pen lifts, careful retouching
- Tremors and lack of rhythm
- Lack of individuality
- An exact replica of original writing
- Identical signatures and writing indicate forgery by tracing
Forgery in IPC
Indian Penal code 1860, deals with the forgery in section 463 to 477A. The sections describe the offences and punishments. The offences included are Forgery, Forged Documents, counterfeit currency and their possession.
Definition of Forgery under IPC section 463
According to IPC section 463, “whoever makes any false document or electronic record or part of a document or electronic record with intent to cause damage or injury, to the public or to any person, or to support any claim or title, or to cause any person to part with property, or to enter into any express or implied contract, or with intent to commit fraud or that fraud may be committed, commits forgery.”
IPC Section 463 includes several factors:-
- The document or record must be false.
- The document or part of a document must be made by a person
- His intentions must be:
- Cause danger to the public or any particular person, or
- Supports any claim or title, or
- Causing any person to part with his property, or
- To enter into any contract, or
- Commit fraud or fraud must be committed.
Punishment to commit forgery under IPC section 465
IPC Section 465 describes the punishment and states that “According to this Section whoever commits forgery shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.”
The offence under this section bailable, triable, non-compoundable and non-cognizable.
Forging of documents has also been further described in other IPC sections such as 464, 465, up to IPC section 477A.
Types of Forgery
With the increasing crimes related to documents, criminals come up with new ideas to commit crimes. Therefore, for the purpose of identification of criminals, it has been classified as:
- Simulated/Freehand Forgery
- Traced Forgery
- Blind Forgery
- Forgery by Impersonation
- Forgery over Genuine signatures
- Optical transfer forgery
It s one of the types of forgery which is also known as copy, freehand or imitation forgery in which a forger tries to copy handwriting characteristics or the signature of another person. The forger tries to copy the content using a model of the writing present in front of him/her or the model is in the mind of the forger who had seen it sometime.
In the case of copying in the absence of a model, the fraud can be detected easily because the exact characteristics of the model might not be present in the mind.
The extent of copying by a person depends on the skills of the forger and the victim. If a victim is a highly educated person his writing skills would be much great thus, making it difficult for the forger.
To be a successful forger, he/she tries to learn the skills and handwriting characteristics of another person and it takes months and years of practice.
Common features are:-
- Careful retouching
- Inconsistent shapes, sizes of letters.
- Defective curves, loops, line quality.
- Frequent pauses.
- Cot exact copy of the model.
- Thick ending and initial strokes
- Variation in pace, rhythm.
Tracing is a common type of forgery in which a document if forged using ‘transmitted light’ or ‘carbon tracing’ or ‘Indented tracing’.
In a transmitted light method, the model document is kept below the plain sheet where the transmitted light will reflect the written signature or writing on the plain sheet which can be copied.
Carbon tracing is a common method of copying using a carbon paper between an original document and the plain paper. While writing on the original document, a copy of that signature or writing gets copied automatically on the plain sheet with the help of a carbon paper.
Another method to copy is ‘Indented tracing’ in which original content is retraced upon a blank sheet with the help of a nib or a pen (provided ink is not present in pen) which causes indentation on the plain sheet and can be rewritten using another pen.
Common Features are
- Variation in pace and no rhythm except in Carbon tracing.
- An exact replica of the original handwriting characteristics.
- Tremors might be present.
- Unusual pen lifts and pauses.
- Heavy pressure
- Thick strokes
The kind of fraud in which the forger doesn’t have any idea about the original writing of the writer neither has seen the model of signature and handwriting characteristics of that writer. It is considered to be the easiest way as it doesn’t have any resemblance to the original/genuine signature of that person. This kind of fraud may sometime allow the Questioned document examiner to determine the identity of the forger based on the characteristics of that handwriting.
Common features are
- No resemblance between the original and forged document.
- Fluency and rhythm will be present.
- Forger will use his natural handwriting characteristics.
Forgery by Impersonation
A kind of fraud in which a person tries to write in someone else’s place or using someone else’s identity. For example: In a class examination, Sourav went to write the exam in place of Anant as his identity. This is a common fraud used in an examination where a person goes to write the exam in place of someone else for personal benefits.
An example can be taken from the movie “Munna Bhai MBBS” where Sanjay Dutt pressurizes a professor to give entrance examination for the sake of his family’s life while Sanjay Dutt was playing carrom at his house.
Many real-life examples can be seen in several institutions and document examiner can capture such frauds by examining and comparing the forged paper with the original writing of that person.
Common features are
- The forger writes in his own handwriting.
- The forger doesn’t pay attention to changing his handwriting characteristics.
Forgery over Genuine signatures
This fraud is done by betraying the confidence of a trustworthy person. In such cases, the victim gives/writes his signatures to a friend, relative, attorney, etc. based on trust in a blank document. When that signature is used by another person for his own personal gains, then that signature comes under Forgery over Genuine signatures
Common features are:-
- The dimension of the paper may be different.
- Edges might be trimmed and may have some erasures on the document.
- Different pens might have been used.
- Writing might be crowded in some places.
- The crossing of strokes might give a clue about the sequence of writing.
- Date and time of execution of the document in question must be checked whether the writer was present in such a place.
- Check seals and stamps as they might also have been forged.
Optical transfer forgery
A kind of fraud in which a forger transfers the signature of a person from one document to another document using a photocopier, scanner, photography, editing, etc. Document examiners find it difficult to examine such documents and positively identify a signature without having a genuine signature for comparison.
In cases when no original is present for comparison, document examiners and courts must take extreme steps and evaluate the veracity of documents to give their judgements.
Frauds have become common today as many crimes related to documents are registered for personal gains. The forgery was very common in ancient times in Europe where Italy and Rome were known for forgers. Titus and Anthony were the famous forgers in the 3rd century and were known for forging of all kinds of documents. From that time, Forgery has been a serious issue for society.