Thanks to Steve Gradman, Sr. Brand Manager from the Uni-Ball division of the Sanford Corp for his email reply - lots of valuable information. I guess this and the previous post has really raised more questions that I've had answers to previously, so here goes some of the things that I've questioned, and some additional answers I'm still hazy about...
- First, if you have no idea what this is all about, you should check out this video on YouTube from FarFromBoring which demonstrates how criminals "wash" checks and other legal documents using Acetone... to remove dye-based inks. Obviously the target of this prescriptions or checks (or other legal documents) which require your signature
- Why should you care? - If you write checks, or mail important documents (or maybe transport them somehow) you should care. Every legal document could be a target - more often than not with the aim of making money
- Besides checks - prescriptions are another major target - doctors are you listening?
- Just about anyone can do a "check wash"... Acetone is simple to acquire
- So why are there still dye-based pens being sold?
- Are there any drawbacks to pigment-based inks?
- What prompted Sanford (Uni-Ball) to pursue research in "secure" ink? It was through a number of security experts suggesting people singing their checks with a uni-ball 207 some years ago due to the pigmented ink formula that was impervious to chemical washing. That was the hallmark of our marketing on the 207 franchise which is now our number one seller. Since then we have been working to expand that formula to nearly the entire product line so people could simply think of any uni-ball with uni-super-ink as their first line of defense in protecting their assets.
- Can you share any market research or metrics on the incidents of "document washing" fraud with me? Check fraud about a $850 million dollar problem, criminal check washing of personal account is about a $70MM problem (according to the American Bankers Association). We still write $39Billion checks a year according to Frank Abagnale, and while that number is declining the value of each check is actually increasing.
- Would you say that dye-based inks are antiquated and should be replaced globally? There is still a lot of applications that benefit from dye based ink like fashion colors, fluorescent, sparkles etc, signing documents isn’t one of them.
- Why wouldn't Sanford (or any instrument company) convert all pens to pigmented ink? Are there draw-backs to this ink technology? There are no drawbacks but there is a lack of flexibility and color creation is much more difficult than with a dye based ink. However, a uni-ball “uni-super-ink” pigment ink is more vibrant and is fade and water resistant as well as considered archival quality vs. dye inks.