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Sunday April 13, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Sunday April 13, 2014 MYT 8:35:33 AM
by christina chin
Cut and paste forgery. - STAR
PETALING JAYA: Cheque fraudsters are now using the “cut and paste” method to fool banks and cheat the public.
According to an expert, the latest forgery technique uses a scanner and photocopier to copy a signature for printing onto a genuine cheque.
“The victim’s scanned or photocopied signature is doctored using advanced computer software and then printed onto a genuine cheque using an inkjet printer,” said handwriting and forensic document examiner William Pang.
Fraudsters previously used the tracing technique to forge a signature. Laser prints, which are glossier and easier to spot, are rarely used.
“Another technique is to collect some 15 signature specimens from the victim before using a software to cut and paste the different portions (of a few selected specimens) to create a composite signature. The fake signature would then be printed onto an original cheque,” he said, adding that using just one signature specimen could create suspicion if the cheque was later scrutinised.
Pang said forgers could also make alterations to the name on a cheque or the amount on the face of cheques.
A simple alteration can change RM80.00 into RM8,000, said Pang, who has testified in many cases in Malaysian courts, including a case involving RM110mil.
According to Bank Negara, 1,029 fraudulent cheques with losses totalling RM1mil were detected last year. The central bank’s records showed that 197.1 million cheques with a total value of RM2,059.5bil were issued last year.
Pang said all authentic cheques had hidden security features such as the respective bank’s logo, which can be easily detected under ultra-violet light.
“Bank tellers should always have an ultra-violet light and a powerful magnifying glass on hand. They should also hold up a cheque against the light to see if there are any embossed or indentation marks on the cheque.
“Fake signatures printed onto a cheque will not create any marks but when you sign, some pressure is applied onto the paper making it visible (to the naked eye).”
Pang, who is based in Singapore, said some fraudsters would also use assumed names to establish bank accounts with the help of someone from inside the bank.
“Thus, when they deposit the fraudulent cheques, it will be harder to trace.”
Pang’s clients are mainly lawyers, banks and commercial houses in Malaysia, Singapore and other countries in the region. He was an expert witness in a S$100mil (RM258.54mil) will forgery case last year.
Maybank Group community financial services head Datuk Lim Hong Tat said that all cheques would go through a prescribed and stringent process of clearance.
He said any interception of genuine cheques usually happened when they were sent via various delivery modes to the recipients.
“The intercepted cheques are altered and then reinserted with another payee’s name. These alterations are difficult to detect with the naked eye,” he said.
“There are many things that need to be verified before a cheque is cleared including checking account details and signature and using ultraviolet light,” Lim said, adding that customers were always advised on the do’s and don’ts when opening a current account.
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