Courier agent falsifies document and commits forgery of signature
My mother used the services of a courier-agency known as ABC Couriers to send a parcel containing clothes, children's toys and dry food (which was confirmed by the agent to be permissible for entry in the UK) to my address in the UK through DHL. The weight of the shipment at origin was determined to be 3.1 kg. The items were packed before my mother's eyes and she was asked to give a hand-written list of contents following which a receipt against the payment was given to her along with an assurance that the tracking number for the parcel would be given that evening over phone.
When the parcel eventually arrived, all the food items were missing and what's more, there was a printed declaration of contents carrying a clearly forged signature of my mother. The airway bill number on the parcel indicated its weight to be 1.3 kg as opposed to 3.1 kg at origin. When I took the matter up with DHL and the agents themselves, I made it very clear that my complaint had two components, namely, (1) obtaining compensation for the lost items, the discrepancy in weight of shipment, related expenses such as phone calls made to the agents, photocopying and scanning documents to supply as evidence, and mental and physical distress caused especially to my aged and ailing mother as a result and (2) bringing to task the perpetrator who forged the signature. I am especially concerned about the potential of such instances of signature forgery with regards matters of greater gravity than mere theft of items such as illegal substance trafficking, which can land an innocent customer into no end of trouble.
It took me immense persistence and expending of time and energy to convince the courier company DTDC, indicated by DHL to undertake the first part of the transport of shipment, to agree a compensation. However, both DHL and DTDC declared to have no association with ABC Couriers, whom they termed as 'freelancers' - a claim that seemed scarcely believable to us. At any rate, DTDC shared the invoice for the parcel they are in possession of, which turned out to be nothing but a copy of the same printed contents-declaration containing a forged signature of my mother and the incomplete list of contents. When challenged on this point, ABC Couriers said such manipulation of signature was common practice after printing a contents declaration!
Please note that they deliberately, as is now evident, misled my mother by asking for a hand-written declaration when DTDC has officially acknowledged that hand-written declarations are not acceptable for customs checks, so that they could make changes to the document and authorise it with a false signature. While my mother was not given a proof of her original contents declaration, I think from the fact that the shipment tariff indicated on the receipt given by ABC Couriers is demonstrably higher than 1.3 kg, which was the weight of shipment at destination, one can deduce that foul play was going on. Furthermore, as said, the signatures on the contents-declaration forms retained by DTDC and myself are clearly forged.
In view of these events, I wish to lodge a case regarding the forgery of signature, not with a view to elicit compensation, which is guaranteed in writing by DTDC anyway, but to punish whoever was responsible for this act. Could you please advise if we have enough grounds to do that and if successful, what type of punishment would be meted out to the criminal? Also how should we proceed to lodge a case of this nature?
Thanking you in anticipation.
Asked in Criminal Law from United Kingdom
1. This is gross unfair trade practice and illegal act.
2. For this your mother can file a case for compensation in local consumer forum .
3. Additionally a case of forgery and criminal impersonation can be filed against the erring staff.
4. if the police does not act then local Magistrate can be approached for this.
5. Before doing all these do lodge a complaint with police and then send a complaint letter to higher officials of the DTDC. It should work to settle the dispute out of court.
Thank you for the advices. DTDC has actually agreed for a settlement/compensation after a plethora of emails from my side - however, as I mentioned, my objective is to bring to task the culprit, more than securing the compensation. If, a case of forgery and criminal impersonation is filed against the staff, does that automatically preclude me from accepting the compensation from DTDC? Or, to put it in another way, if I accept DTDC's compensation, would I lose my right to complain about the forgery? Also, DTDC have repeatedly denied any association with the agents and I have written proof of that, even though it is unclear how the agent could act on behalf of DTDC in that case.
From how I see it, the compensation is for the money lost due to the transaction, which still does not amend the fact that a person or a group of persons dared to carry out a mala fide act which could have grave consequences. I wish that the concerned employee is made an example of.
Could you please advise?
Asked 2 years ago
1. No but in that event you may have to withdraw the case to receive the compensation. You can not blow hot and cold at the same point of time. And if you receive the compensation then you can not file forgery case anymore.
2.If you interested to get compensation then you can claim a hefty amount towards your pecuniary loss and damages towards physical and mental harassment so it acts as a deterrent for their future repetitions.
1. Since DTC has agreed to compensate you, you are not required to file a case for compensation.
2. However, if you choose to prosecute the agency for forgery then your mother may file the criminal case in the court. The prosecution can be initiated only by your mother as it is her signature which has has been forged. You have no right to initiate the prosecution for forgery.
3. Accepting compensation does not in any manner impair your mother's right to prosecute the courier company for forgery.
4. Your mother alone will have to file the complaint and she will have to go to the court.
Furthermore, if the compensation agreed to be given by the courier agency is inadequate then you may file a case for compensation in the court.
1. You have the document stating that the shipment weighing 3.10 KG was booked by your mother in India,
2. You have the document showing that the said shipment received by you at UK wiighed 1.3 KG,
3. You also have the copy of the declaration of content with your mother's forged signature,
4. Your mother can file a police complaint immediately aleging forgery, cheating etc before the local police station in India,
5. She can send her complaint letter to the local police station under copy to local S.P./D.C. by speed post and thereafter file a petition u/s156(3) of Cr.P.C. before the District Judge praying for direction upon the police to investigate and act based on her complaint,
6. If police still neglects to act, she can file a Writ Petition before the High Court of the state where she is staying, against police inaction.
1. Your accepting compensation from DTDC does not dilute your criminal complaint filed against the offenders at all,
2. You also have option to knock the door of Consumer Forum if DTDC refuses to pay you the compensation or delays the payment.