How to Avoid 'Magic Pen' Fraud in the UAE

In this high-tech era where cyber criminals steal confidential customer information online or defraud banks by using modified SWIFT transactions, the old fashioned method of fraud is still popular in the UAE.

Magic Pen Fraud in UAEPhoto by razihusin -

The fraudsters armed with a ‘magic pen’ - a pen wins erasable ink – are reportedly duping individuals of their hard earned cash stored in the bank. A number of incidents have been reported of check frauds in the Gulf country that are undergoing police investigations in the UAE. Banks have issued warnings to the customers to keep them on their toes about the check fraud. 

Pranksters are approached by the unsuspecting individuals as a salesperson or a customer services representative of a bank. They persuade the customers to buy the credit card or a loan product of the bank. In case the scamster is successful with the sales pitch, the customer is asked to complete a credit card or loan application.  Afterward, the customer is given a blank signed security check that the imposter fills up in the presence of the customer using a magic pen.

The details of the beneficiary, as well as the amount, are altered easily by the fraudster since they use a magic pen to fill in the details. The fraudster then checks in the cash from various banks using third parties.

One of the businessmen that was duped through the magic pen scam and who had asked not to be named said that a scamster had approached him and told him that he was a representative of a bank and offered him a much-needed loan facility.

The fraudster had taken all the documents from the individual and told him that he needed to sign a check for Dh 100,000 (US$27,226), and also needed to keep a minimum balance of the same amount.  The fraudster had given the check in the bank’s name, but later changed both the amount and the beneficiary details using a magic pen.

Steps to Avoid a Credit Card Scam in the UAE

Fraudsters that approach unwary individuals with a check and magic pen could appear in the form of insurance representatives, sales agents, bill collectors, and real estate agents. They may also appear as payment collection agents on behalf of a bank.

In order to avoid getting duped by the cyber criminals, it is important that you ask the representative to check the identity of the individual by viewing the photo ID that is issued by the bank. Moreover, you should never sign any blank security check using the pen given by the salesperson.  It’s important to use your own pen to fill in the details of the check including the amount and the name of the beneficiary.

Also, it’s important to contact the concerned bank on the landline to confirm the identity of the sales representative. The little extra effort on your part will ensure that you don’t fall prey to any prankster that want to dupe you out of your hard-earned cash that is securely stored in the bank.