Chemical warfare on cheque fraud

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The Independent Online
ABBEY NATIONAL has begun printing its cheques with images that can only be seen under ultra-violet light to discourage the passing of counterfeit cheques.

The cheques are impregnated with chemicals that flare up under ultra-violet light.

Neil Churcher, the bank's manager of security and investigations, said that the arrival of colour photocopiers had made it easier to counterfeit cheques.

'Our new cheques cannot be reproduced without losing their ultra-violet flare,' he added.

The technique is applied to cheques supplied to Abbey National's 1.3 million current account customers and also to cheques written for customers from savings accounts.

Abbey admits that the technique cannot prevent fraud with stolen cheques. Retailers could believe them to be genuine.

Abbey stresses that a retailer, and anyone else presented with a bank or building society cheque, should wait until it is cleared before letting customers take delivery of expensive goods.

The warning was repeated by Yorkshire Building Society this week after the theft of several hundred of its pre-printed cheques. Serial numbers are 040637 to 041000.

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