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Explained: Forging of Credit Card Data and its Punishment in the UAE

Forgery is considered a crime under the UAE laws and is punishable with imprisonment and/ or fines, depending upon the type of forgery.

What is Forgery?

Under the UAE Penal Code (Federal Decree Law No. 31 of 2021 On the Issuance of the Crimes and Penalties Law), forgery of a document is defined as any alteration of the truth of the documents by undertaking certain specified actions, which may cause harm, with the intention of using the forged document as a genuine one.

The following actions, as specified under Article 251 of the UAE Penal Code, will be considered as forgery.

  1.  Altering a document, by making changes to what is written in document, including numbers, writing, marks or pictures in the document. Any removal of the above will also be treated as alteration.
  2. Placing a forged signature or seal on a document or altering a genuine signature, seal or fingerprint.
  3. Taking the signature, seal or fingerprint of a document without valid consent, or being aware of the contents, through fraud or surprise.
  4. Creating a fake document or imitating a document and ascribing it a third party.
  5. Filling a blank paper containing a signature, or a seal, or a fingerprint, without the approval of the person to whom the signature, seal, or fingerprint belongs.
  6. False impersonation or changing the identity in a document intended for such purpose.
  7. Altering the truth in a document intended as a proof, immediately upon preparation.

While the UAE Penal Code provides the general definition of forgery in a document, Article 252 also prescribes penalty of imprisonment forging an unofficial document.

Are there any punishments under the Cybercrime Law?

Yes, there are. The United Arab Emirates issued a new law on cybercrime, called the Federal Decree-Law 34 of 2021 Concerning the Fight Against Rumours and Cybercrime (“New Cybercrime Law”) which repealed the previously existing Federal Decree-Law No. 5 of 2012 and came into force from 2 January 2022.

Article 14/2 of the New Cybercrime Law provides punishments for forging an electronic document of a body, pursuant to which, penalties including imprisonment and / or fines between AED 100,000 to AED 300,000 may be imposed on the perpetrator. In accordance with Article 14/3 of the New Cybercrime Law, any person who uses a forged electronic document, while knowing that it’s forged, will be punishable with the same penalty as prescribed for the crime of forgery.

The text of Article 14 of the New Cybercrime is set out below for ease.

  1. “1. Everyone forges an electronic document of the federal or local government, or the public federal or local authorities or institutions shall be sentenced to provisional imprisonment and to pay fine of not less than (150,000) one hundred fifty thousand Dirhams and not more than (750,000) seven hundred fifty thousand Dirhams.
  2. If the forgery is committed in documents of a body other than the bodies described in Clause (1) hereof, the penalty shall be detention and/or payment of fine of not less than (100,000) one hundred thousand Dirhams and not more than (300,000) three hundred thousand Dirhams.
  3. Everyone uses the forged electronic document, while informed of its forgery, shall be sentenced to the same penalty established for the crime of forgery.”

Forging a Credit Card

The New Cybercrime Law, in fact, specifically provides penalties for forging a credit card, debit card or any other e-payment method. The penalties for forging a credit card is imprisonment and / or fines between AED 200,000 to AED 2 million.

Article 15 of the New Cybercrime Law, which sets out the punishments for breach of electronic payment methods is set out below.

“Everyone forges, counterfeits or copies a credit card, debit card or any e-payment method or seizes the data or information thereof, by using information technology means or information system shall be sentenced to detention and/or payment of fine of not less than (200,000) two hundred thousand Dirhams and not more than (2,000,000) two million Dirhams.

Everyone commits the following shall be subject to the same penalty:

  1. Manufacturing or designing any information technology method or information program to facilitate any of the actions provided in the first paragraph of this Article.
  2. Unauthorized use of credit card, electronic card, debit card or any electronic payment method or any data or information thereof, for purpose of seizing for oneself or for others, the monies or properties of others or making benefit of the services offered by such cards and provided by third parties.
  3. Before dealing with the forged, counterfeited or copied cards or other electronic payment methods or data of electronic payment methods illegitimately seized while knowing its illegitimacy.”

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