Vanishing Act: Dubai trader baffled as signature disappears from cheque

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4203619841The disappearance of a signature on a cheque issued by a Dubai-based company is haunting the recipient, who has been running from pillar to post to get the cheque amount of Dh5,875. The cheque dated May 16, 2013 was allegedly issued by a trading company with Dubai and Abu Dhabi operations.

The duly signed cheque was accepted by the bank but was returned on May 18 due to insufficient funds in the issuer’s account. When the trader presented the cheque again in June, he was stunned when the bank pointed out that there was no signature on the cheque.

The signature seemed to have vanished. “Normally, we get several cheques that we deposit in our account. Recently, I got a call from bank officials, saying there is no signature on a cheque deposited for collection. What puzzled me was the fact that there indeed was a signature on the same cheque when it bounced a month ago, and a photocopy of the cheque returned by the same bank a few weeks ago clearly shows the signature,” Job Mathew, sales and service manager of the beneficiary firm, Muftah Al Shair Electrical and Mechanical Contracting, told Emirates 24|7.

“I am yet to realise how the signature could have disappeared. I am trying to approach the Forensic Department of the Dubai Police with the cheque sans signature,” Mathew added. Mathew claims he had referred the matter back to the cheque issuing firm but has not received a positive response. “When I checked with the party that issued the cheque, they pretended ignorance and said they had issued several cheques and that there has been no complaint from any one.

The company manager is talking about transactions worth several million dirhams and that they don’t have to do anything for a small amount of Dh5,000,” said the manager, who has been trying to get the pending payment. “I am not worried about the money but about the way in which I was defrauded. How is it possible for the signature on the cheque to disappear so quickly? It is a breach of trust and a clear case of cheating,” he added.

The cheque issuer speculated that the signature could have disappeared due to drops of water or something else, he added. When contacted by this reporter, the manager of the company that issued the cheque said: “We are not aware of any issues. We have already paid Dh2,000 to the party and they were asked to collect the balance amount from our office in Dubai. We have issued several cheques. So far there has been no problems,” adding that they are not aware of any type of fraud with a ‘magic pen’ with vanishing ink, which is banned in the UAE.

The trader who issued the cheque said he is amused by the claim that the signature had disappeared from the instrument. “How can a signature disappear after one month? I have issued cheques to many customers and some of our payments are pending. A few million dirhams are outstanding in the market and we have issued several cheques, but this is the only complaint that I have received,” he said.

He added that the business has been going through a tough phase, after a payment from Jordan was delayed, and he has been doing business in the UAE for 14 years. “You can check our credentials and there is no reason why we will do any trick for a small amount of Dh5,000,” he added.

The Central Bank of the UAE and Dubai Police had alerted banks and customers about a ‘magic pen’, an illegal Chinese writing instrument that can be misused to forge documents with its vanishing ink. A warning issued by the Central Bank in April 2011 said such pens were illegally smuggled into the UAE. Dubai’s General Administration for Criminal Investigation also issued a similar warning against the magic pen.

The warning sent out to 23 national banks and 28 foreign banks in the UAE stated that the vanishing ink used in the magic pen will disappear within one hour to four days after writing on normal paper. Banks and customers were advised to use their own pens. Dubai Police had raided several shops in Dubai and confiscated the illegal China-made ‘magic pens’ used to forge cheques and documents with vanishing inks. Brig. Khalil Ebrahim Al Mansouri, Head of Criminal Investigation Department, Dubai Police was earlier quoted in the media as saying that it had received information about shops selling these magic pens.

Globally, several frauds are reported with the use of vanishing inks which disappear over a period of time due to their chemical properties.

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