Additional Document Examination Services
Below are additional document examination services I can provide, depending on which may apply to your case:
Alleged alterations to accounting journals, checks, wills and other documents are common. From your own experience, you likely complete a check or complete an application with the use of the same pen. During an intentional alteration of a numeral or date, a ‘forger’ would commonly have to use a different pen. A document examination of the ink on a questioned entry, using specialized laboratory instruments or an ink chemist, will commonly determine if an alteration occurred. A Video Spectral Comparator (VSC), is a widely used instrument to discriminate between ink formulas in the infrared light spectrum. The examination is non-destructive to documents.
Case Example: During the delivery of a baby, chart notes were kept by a medical staff member at the hospital. Tragically, the child died during the delivery due to complications. Shortly after the incident, the primary doctor changed a number related to the amount of medication given the mother during the procedure. As in most intentional alteration cases, the use of a pen having the same color of ink was used. An examination of the original chart notes with the use of the VSC, mentioned above, clearly confirmed the alteration.
Original text or other entries may be covered with an obliterating fluid such as Liquid Paper®. Holding the document to a light source will commonly allow a person to identify the writing beneath the fluid. However, multiple layers of the fluid, or extensive writing on top of the fluid, may make it quite difficult to decipher what the original writing was. A document examiner will have non-destructive methods that are usually successful in resolving the issue.
Case Example: An attorney, representing a family, retained me to recover the original handwritten text in a letter. The writing in question was related to the sexual abuse of a boy by an adult male. The writing was concealed by the black ink of a wide-tipped, felt-tipped pen. The defendant wrote a letter to the victim, including admissions he had masked with the ink, before mailing the letter. An examination of the obliterations in the infrared light spectrum clearly revealed the damaging statements.
Cut and Paste Fabrications
A common allegation is a person’s signature was transferred to a document by a cut and paste process. If that actually occurred, the ‘original’ document (having a signature written with a pen), cannot be produced. An excuse will be made for the absence of the original.
In any case where a purported signed original is made available for inspection, the first observation I make is whether the signature is an original or a machine copy. If the signature was, in fact, written with a writing instrument, the contention of a cut and paste process is removed from further consideration.
There is a variety of computer software that allows convincing signature transfers. The inexplicable absence of the original document at issue, or the discovery of the document from which the signature was copied, is commonly of value to the client.
Case Example: A $12 million contested will had purported signatures of the decedent on several documents. Many of the documents were notarized. I testified to the fabrication of the estate documents, noting non-original signatures. Exhibits were used to demonstrate the ‘cut and paste’ evidence of the notary’s signature and her official stamp.
Many clients are unmindful of indentations on a document. A laboratory instrument, such as an Electrostatic Detection Apparatus (ESDA), is specifically designed to recover indentations. The ESDA provides a non-destructive document examination. Although some indentations may be noted on paper, many fiber disturbances are not identified until the laboratory instrument is used. Indentations may help to establish, or disprove, a sequence of entries in medical records, a contract or other multi-paged documents.
Case Example: An attorney submitted documents related to a significant internal theft incident. The company not only wanted evidence of the theft, but hoped to locate where the stolen assets were located. The non-visual indentations on the pages were made visible, detailing locations and account numbers of value to the client.
Although not as common as a free-hand simulation of signatures, tracings still occur. The process hasn’t evolved much over the years; a known signature sample is placed against a light source and the document to be ‘forged’ placed over the top. The writer simply follows the outline of the known signature. Due to the attention the writer must give to tracing the genuine signature, the writing process is very slow. The strokes may have tremor or a ‘shakiness’ quality. There may be unnatural stops and starts.
Case Example: A client submitted a mining claim form valued at $50 million. The client stated he had not signed the document which transferred the involved property to a company he had a business relationship with. I asked for, and received, all business documents he signed for the opposing party. Among the documents was a copy of his driver’s license. That signature proved to be the ‘model’ signature traced on the contract in question.