Signature forgeries are the most common type of issue clients present to the signature expect they hire. Many of the involved signatures are abbreviated and lack a few or many of the individual letters in the name. It is common for people signing their name frequently to simplify their signature. However, reducing the complexity of a signature increases the ability for someone to simulate it. A complex, fluently written signature minimizes the opportunity for a successful ‘forgery’ of the name.
Many abbreviated signatures examined by this document expert were limited to one or two letters. For a person signing their name several times throughout the day, shortening their signature to essentially their initials may serve as a time saver. However, removing the complex structure of a full signature equates to a lessor effort necessary to successfully simulate it.
Recall examples of beautifully scripted writing of people in days gone past, when such writing was a matter of pride as well as a major requirement in the school system. Now think of how you would reproduce that type of signature in a fluently written manner while incorporating all of the detail in proper proportions. A signature forgery of a well executed cursive signature would be a daunting challenge.
The most common process used for a signature forgery is a free-hand simulation. The writer simply uses a true signature of the person as a model, placed near the signature line where the forger will copy the genuine signature as well as they can. If the forger lacks the motor skill ability to make a passable forgery, he/she may opt for a “cut and paste” fabrication. That type of signature forgery is simply the transfer of a genuine signature from one document to another using a software program such as PhotoShop or Paint.
In the recent past, mortgage fraud was a frequent topic in the media and remains a concern of many home owners. Although there were many instances of mortgage fraud in the past, every case submitted to a handwriting expert must obviously stand on its own merits and not tainted simply because of prior deceptive practices.
The handwriting expert will focus toward specific areas of concern by the client and may conduct other examinations as appropriate. The most frequent request of a document examiner is to determine if the signatures on the Note were originals (written with a pen), or printed with laser or inkjet technology common to printers.
Evidence recovered may then be evaluated by the client, and their counsel. If the signatures were not original, or the Note was altered in some manner from the initial signing, the handwriting expert will give testimony to support the client’s case.
It is common for mortgage documents to be in the possession of the Note holder or their attorney. The inspection of the documents may be allowed (or compelled), but the expert will often be required to conduct an “on-site” document examination at a location determined by opposing counsel. Doing so is less convenient and increases the cost of the examination for the client. However, the confirmation of original or photocopied signatures on the Note can be accomplished as well as the non-destructive analysis of other aspects of the document.
Although commonly overlooked, indented writing may be of significant value in resolving questioned document issues. As the term implies, indented writing is the non-visible indentations or images applied to a sheet of paper positioned below the page actually written upon.
The indentations may be made visible by rubbing with a crayon or the side of a pencil, however, it is a destructive process not used by forensic document examiners
A specialized laboratory instrument
is used by document examiners to recover indented writing. The process is non-destructive, leaving no marks on the document. An image is produced providing tangible evidence of the continuity, or non-continuity, of entries made in a journal, medical record, accounting book, etc.
A qualified document examiner will have the instrumentation and knowledge of techniques appropriate to a variety of document issues.
Requests are commonly received for a forensic document examiner
to compare a simulated or traced signature with writing samples of the purported ‘forger’. The expectation is to confirm a suspected writer was responsible for the simulation or traced signature. The reality is a well simulated signature, or tracing, rarely contains identifying features of the writer.
In the writer’s attempt to successfully replicate another persons’ signature, they attempt to discard their own handwriting profile. However, rushed or poorly executed simulations may yield some evidence of the writer if they inadvertently include their own natural writing features. Tracings rarely would offer that opportunity.
Extended writing, such as anonymous notes, offers a greater likelihood of the writer including their own writing traits.
July 14, 2013 in Forgeries by James A. Green | Comments Off on Signature Comparisons: just one aspect of Document Examinations
Commonly, when a document is called into question the signature becomes the focus of attention. Forensic document examiners
conduct signature comparisons, but also look for other evidence on the document. To assist with this process, specialized laboratory instruments are used.
For example, there may be indentations of value on a contract, will or medical record. As a person writes, the indentations of the writing are commonly found on the following page or pages. A lab instrument is used to recover indentations and make them visible. It is useful in not only learning what the indented text was but may also help in establishing if a document is consistent with the dating sequence.
Another instrument used in the profession is a Video Spectral Comparator (VSC)
. It serves to show differences in ink formula’s. Although two inks may react similarly with the VSC, it cannot conclusively determine they are the same ink. Typical cases involve altered medical records, altered contracts, wills, checks, etc. The instrument is also effective in resolving obliterated writing cases and to authenticate security documents.
Rely on a qualified document examiner to use a multi-faceted approach in the examination of your questioned document.
September 4, 2011 in Forgeries by James A. Green | Comments Off on Sports Memorabilia
The marketing of autographed sports items with ‘forged’ signatures is an unfortunate reality. It is not uncommon for document examiners
to receive requests to examine memorabilia to determine if an autograph is genuine or not. The methodology for autographs on sports memorabilia, works of art, or other non-traditional writing surfaces is essentially the same as with paper documents.
A qualified examiner retained for the examination of an autographed product should be provided with the original item as well as numerous known signature specimens for the comparison process. The known signature samples would ideally be dated in close proximity to the autograph in question. Other similarly autographed items, i.e., baseball, football, would be of valuable in determining if the surface influenced the quality of the signature by the purported signer.
The examination process is neither simplistic or quick. Beware of anyone that purports to be able to ‘short cut’ the examination of autographs or any other type of signatures examination.