Cheque Forging

Cheque Forging


Cheque Forging offences account for a high percentage of the major crime committed in Bermuda annually. As such the cost of dealing with these offences is borne by all of us; the victim whose cheques are stolen, the businesses which accept the cheques, the victim's Bank and the Police who must investigate the offences.

Such crimes of opportunity could easily be kept to manageable levels if everybody worked together for their mutual benefit. The cheque book holder is really the key. Cheques should be stored in a safe place. If the cheques cannot be stolen, they cannot be forged.

From the criminals point of view, cheque forging is a very risky business. The Bermuda Police Service's annual clear-up rate is around ninety percent each year. So why do thieves do it? Simply because businesses and cheque book holders make it so easy for them. Too many businesses fail to adopt sound cheque-accepting policies and too many cheque book holders give little thought to keeping their cheque book safe!

TOPICS:

   
Protect Your Cheque Book More Than Just Stealing  
Check Those Cheques' Card Merchants Advice
Safeguards Handling Forged Cheques
The Cheque Forger Important Phone Numbers
   
   
   
   


Protect Your Cheque Book

Keep your cheque book in a safe place - don't give thieves the opportunity to steal it. It stands to reason that if fewer cheques are stolen, less will be forged. Crime Prevention is everybody's business so remember to play your part.

  • Don't leave your cheque book lying around the house
  • Never leave blank spaces when filling out a cheque
  • Don't leave your cheque book in the glove compartment of your car
  • Never sign a blank cheque
  • Don't leave your cheque book in an unlocked drawer at your place of work

If your cheque book is lost or stolen, report it immediately to your Bank and the Police. It may even be necessary to close your account; but remember, this must be done in person.


Check Those Cheques' Cards

Self-adhesive 'Check Those Cheques' cards for affixing to or near cash registers are available free of charge from the Police Crime & Drug Prevention Unit. The cards list those points to look for when accepting cheques as payment for goods and/or services.


Safeguards

  • Consider having your pay cheque paid directly into your bank account each week or month for greater security.
  • Keep accurate records of your payments by cheque - in this way a stolen and forged cheque will come to light a lot quicker.
  • If you are the victim of a housebreaking and your cheque book has not been stolen, examine it carefully to make sure that cheques have not been removed from the centre or back of the book(s).


The Cheque Forger

Cheque forgers do not fall into any particular category. Whilst the majority of such people are young males, older thieves will forge if given the opportunity, and roughly 15% of all cheque forgers are women.

Though most cheque forgers work alone, others band together into groups with perhaps one person stealing the cheques, another writing them out and a third person actually presenting them for payment in exchange for goods or cash - or both!

A disturbing trend in recent years has been the number of drug addicts in Bermuda who have turned to cheque forging as a means to support their habit.


More Than Just Stealing

A person who steals a cheque, forges it and obtains goods or cash in exchange for that cheque, commits not one, but FOUR separate offences.

These offences are:

  1. STEALING- the actual theft of the cheque(s)
  2. FORGING - writing out the cheque
  3. UTTERING-presenting the cheque in exchange for goods or money.
  4. FALSE PRETENCES - receiving goods or cash by pretending that the cheque is good payment for them. The person convicted of any ONE of these offences, let alone all four, faces a possible term of imprisonment or a fine or both!


Merchants Advice

ENDORSEMENT
Insist that the cheque is signed in your presence. If it has been signed already, ask the customer to sign again.

IDENTIFICATION
unless you know the customer personally, always insist upon seeing photographic identification (for example a drivers licence or bank card).

ALTERATIONS
Examine the cheque carefully for alterations, additions, erasures and crossings-out.

MISTAKES
Checkall details thoroughly. Do the writtenand numerical amounts agree?

SIGNATURES
In the case of second party cheques, compare the signature of the payer with the payee. If the cheque is authentic, they will bedifferent.

THIRD-PARTY CHEQUES Do not accept.

SECOND CHEQUESBe wary of persons who attempt to cash a second cheque within a very short time of cashing their first.

WEEKENDS
Pay extra attention to cheques presented on a holiday ever orweekendwhen Banks will be closed for several days.

JUVENILES/MINORS
Be cautious of accepting cheques from persons under 21 years of age since they have no legal liability for debt.

POST-DATED
Do not accept post-dated or out-dated cheques.

EXACT AMOUNT
Only accept cheques for the exact amount of the purchase. Cheque forgers will frequently attempt to tender cheques for a sum greater than the purchase price and pocket the difference.


Handling Forged Cheques

If you suspect that the cheque you have received is forged, and that the person who passed the cheque is still in your presence or close-by,try to stall that person. Either telephone the Police yourself or have another member of staff do it for you.Do not hand the suspected forged cheque back to the customer.

Should the person tendering the cheque have left the scene, write down all that you can remember about that person, and telephone the Police right away. In particular write down anything that was different orout of the ordinary about the man or woman. Was the person right or left handed?Describe his or her clothing, jewellery and accent.What conversation (if any) took place? Did the person leave on foot orin a vehicle ? What was the vehicle number and in which direction was it headed when last seen?


Important Telephone Numbers

Police (Emergency)
911
Hamilton Police Station
295-0011
Somerset Police Station
234-1010
St. George's Police Station
297-1122
Crime Prevention Unit
299-4286
Bermuda Commercial Bank Ltd.
295-5678
The Bank of Bermuda Ltd.
295-4000
Capital G Limited
296-6969
The Bank of N.T. Butterfield
295-1111