15 April 2024

Josleen Deeb

In the vibrant economic landscape of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), forgery emerges as a shadowy figure against the backdrop of innovation and prosperity. This multifaceted crime, ranging from the falsification of documents to the intricate counterfeiting of artworks, poses significant challenges to both individuals and businesses. As the UAE continues to ascend as a global hub for finance, art, and technology, the sophistication of forgery techniques has evolved, prompting a need for heightened vigilance and advanced preventive measures.

Dubai: This article embarks on an exploratory journey into the realm of forgery, uncovering the latest trends in forgery tactics within the UAE, the pivotal role of cutting-edge technology in detection, and robust strategies to fortify against fraudulent endeavors. Join us as we delve into the intricacies of forgery, highlighting the unique aspects of combating this age-old menace in the modern context of the UAE's dynamic landscape.

What is forgery?

Forgery, is the act of deliberately falsifying items like documents, signatures, or artwork for deception, poses a serious legal threat with substantial penalties. This article delves into the myriad forms of forgery, exploring common forgery tactics, detection methods, and strategies to thwart fraudulent activities.

What Constitutes Forgery?

At its core, forgery involves producing or altering objects or documents with fraudulent intent. This encompasses a wide range of deceptive practices, from counterfeit currency and art to manipulated legal documents and beyond, all crafted with the goal of personal gain at another's expense. The legal framework surrounding forgery crimes is designed to protect the integrity of documents, transactions, and financial systems in the country. One of the primary legislations dealing with forgery crimes is Federal Law by Decree No. (31) of 2021 (as the “Law”) concerning the Penal Code of the UAE.

Distinguishing Features of Forgeries:

Article 251 of the Law defines the forgery of documents, which entails altering their authenticity to cause harm and using them as genuine instruments. The article outlines various means of forgery, including modifying existing documents by adding, deleting, or altering content such as writing, numbers, marks, or photographs. It also includes the use of forged signatures, seals, or alterations of genuine ones, as well as obtaining signatures, seals, or thumbprints through deception or without consent. Additionally, the article covers fabricating or counterfeiting documents and falsely attributing them to others, filling blank papers without consent, impersonating, or substituting identities, and altering information in documents meant for truth verification. These actions are considered serious offenses under the law and carry legal consequences.

It can be concluded that there are two (2) types of forgery namely, material forgery and moral forgery. A material forgery occurs when a significant change is made to a document by the forger, which can be perceived through the senses, such as sight. This includes additions, deletions, or modifications to an existing original document, as well as the creation of entirely new documents. Such alterations are substantial and noticeable, potentially leading to legal consequences under the law.

Whereas, a moral forgery occurs when a forger manipulates the meaning, content, or circumstances of a document without altering its material or form. This includes editing articles or statements not made by the contractual parties, such as impersonating someone else in a contract or making false statements about a person contrary to what was said. An example is falsely claiming that someone received bribes or money when they did not. Such manipulations distort the truth and can have serious legal ramifications.


Exploring Forgery Methods

Forgery tactics vary with the item being falsified. Here are some prevalent forms:

·        Document Forgery

This form involves creating or modifying documents to commit fraud. Targets range from personal ID and financial documents to legal contracts, employing methods like counterfeiting, alteration, and signature forgery.

·        Signature Forgery

Here, the forger replicates someone’s signature to unauthorizedly access funds or falsify document authenticity, often targeting checks and legal documents.

·        Counterfeiting

Creating replicas of valuable items, especially money and luxury goods, to deceive consumers and businesses is a widespread issue, challenged by sophisticated security measures and advanced printing technology.

·        Art Forgery

Art forgers produce works mimicking famous artists, deceiving collectors and experts alike. This requires deep knowledge of the original artist’s techniques and materials.

·        Digital Media Forgery

With technological advancements, falsifying digital content, including videos, photos, and documents, has become more sophisticated. Techniques like deepfakes and photoshopping manipulate reality for deceptive purposes.

Legal Repercussions of Forgery

Articles 246 until 259 of the Law state that the law imposes stringent penalties for counterfeiting or illicitly employing official seals, signatures, stamps, or marks. Offenders face severe consequences, including temporary imprisonment lasting no less than five years for counterfeiters and those knowingly utilizing counterfeit items. Legal entities engaged in such transgressions may be subject to incarceration. Moreover, the unauthorized use of official seals or stamps, resulting in harm to public or private interests, carries the penalty of temporary imprisonment. Counterfeiting metal plates or marks issued by governmental bodies may result in incarceration for up to one year or a fine. Similarly, manufacturing, distributing, or vending printed materials resembling government marks or stamps could lead to a penalty of temporary imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or a fine of up to 10,000 AED.

Furthermore, Forgery of official documents carries a penalty of imprisonment for a maximum of ten years, while forgery of non-official documents results in incarceration. If a forged copy of an official document is used or knowingly utilized, the penalty is imprisonment for up to five years; for unofficial document copies, the penalty is incarceration. An official document is one prepared or influenced by a public servant or entrusted person, while all others are non-official. Physicians or midwives who knowingly issue false certificates or statements face imprisonment for up to five years. Providing false statements during investigations related to death, inheritance, or bequest may lead to imprisonment for up to two years or a fine. Similarly, providing incorrect personal information in judicial or administrative investigations incurs imprisonment for up to two years or a fine. Those who knowingly use forged documents face penalties, as do those who unlawfully use genuine documents in another's name. These provisions do not apply to forgery cases specified in special penal laws.

In Conclusion

Forgery not only undermines trust in financial and legal systems but also inflicts significant personal and societal harm. Awareness, advanced detection methods, and stringent preventive measures are essential in combating this pervasive issue. Recognizing the signs of forgery and understanding how to protect against it are critical steps for individuals and organizations alike in safeguarding their assets and integrity.

The UAE has been proactive in its efforts to combat financial crimes, including forgery, through the establishment of robust legal frameworks, stringent penalties for offenders, and the implementation of advanced technological solutions for detection and prevention. The country's approach typically involves a combination of law enforcement activities, financial monitoring, digital security measures, and public awareness campaigns. 


Our team of professionals is expert in filing criminal complaints directly related to forgery and can accompany you from the time the complaint is structure, till the expert is appointed and the forensic test are made. If you or your company are victims of embezzlement, theft, and breach of trust due to some forged documents or signatures or any suspicion of using your identity in a misplaced manner, you have come to the right place. We are ready to waive your concerns in the most effective legal strategy. Let us know!

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