The alteration of the figures and amount written on a cheque is

generally effected by erasure. At one time chemicals were used for this

purpose, but fortunately the modern cheque is forgery-proof in this

respect. No means are known to chemists by which ordinary writing can be

removed from a cheque without leaving a sign too pronounced to escape


But even erasure on a cheque is extremely difficul
, and the experienced

eye of the average bank teller can detect it in the vast majority of

cases. Frauds perpetrated by this means are very rare, and are usually

the result of gross carelessness on the part of the person accepting the

document so altered.

The more frequent form of cheque fraud is effected by adding to such

words as six, seven, eight and nine. The addition of _ty_ and _y_ is all

that is necessary. But the ordinarily careful business man never leaves

sufficient blank space between his words to admit of this addition,

while there are few bank tellers who do not carefully scrutinise a

cheque made out for these larger amounts.

It may be accepted as a satisfactory fact that cheque forgery is not

only extremely difficult, but rarely successful. Great frauds are

usually perpetrated by means of other instruments, such as bills of

exchange, credit notes, &c.

An erasure is the easiest thing to detect if looked for. To begin with

it is only necessary to hold a scratched document to the light to have

the alteration revealed.

Erasing must of necessity remove part of the surface of the paper which

is made noticeably thinner at the spot erased.

In nearly every case the writing that has been added to the erasure is

blurred, owing to the rough and absorbent character of the paper. Expert

forgers have devised means of counteracting this by rubbing in some

substance which partially restores the original smoothness and mitigates

the blurred appearance. But such devices ought not to be successful for

they are so easily detected.

As a matter of fact the only chance the forger of an erased cheque has

lies in the carelessness of the teller. Any crowding of words and

unequal spacing in the filling up of a cheque ought to excite suspicion

and provoke careful and closer scrutiny, and, it may be added, it

generally does.

The addition of letters intended to increase the value of a number, such

as the adding of _ty_ to six or seven, is easy of detection if properly

looked for.

It is safe to assume that the addition has been made long after the

original word was written, and the point of junction can be detected by

the aid of a good glass.

Had the word been originally written sixty, the chances are that there

would be no perceptible break between the _x_ and the _t_. Few persons

write such short words in a disconnected manner. On placing the word

under an ordinary glass the point of junction will be plainly apparent,

and a microscope, or an enlarged photograph, cannot fail to reveal the

fraud. Of course these latter tests will not be possible under the

ordinary circumstances attending the paying out of a cheque over the

counter, but when once the peculiarities of such alterations have been

studied, it is marvellous how quick the eye becomes in recognizing them

at a glance.

Erasure in writings on stout thick paper is not quite so readily noticed

as those on thin paper such as cheques; but the same methods of

examination will apply--holding the document to the light, or level with

and horizontal to the eye. A very effective application of the latter

test is to bend or curve the paper, making an arch. The bending has a

tendency to stretch and widen the erased part, and if any smoothing

substance such as starch or wax has been added to restore the gloss of

the scraped portion, it will usually reveal itself by separating and

coming away in dust or tiny flakes. This process may be accentuated by

drawing the suspected document over a ruler, or, better still, a pencil,

repeating the motion several times.