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Detecting Forgery

Detecting Forgery: Forensic Investigation of Documents

Joe Nickell
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: 1
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Detecting Forgery
    Book Description:

    Detecting Forgeryreveals the complete arsenal of forensic techniques used to detect forged handwriting and alterations in documents and to identify the authorship of disputed writings. Joe Nickell looks at famous cases such as Clifford Irving's "autobiography" of Howard Hughes and the Mormon papers of document dealer Mark Hoffman, as well as cases involving works of art.Detecting Forgeryis a fascinating introduction to the growing field of forensic document examination and forgery detection.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4842-7
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. iii-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Forgery is an ancient art. Egyptian law of several millennia ago endeavored to curtail its spread by serious measures: “The punishment was directed more particularly against the offending member; and adulterators of money, falsifiers of weights and measures, forgers of seals or signatures, and scribes who altered any signed document by erasures or additions, without the authority of the parties, were condemned to lose both their hands.”¹

    By the third century A.D., Roman jurists had found it necessary to set forth protocols for the detection and proof of forgeries, and during the sixth century the emperor Justinian established additional guidelines.²...

  5. PART ONE. Handwriting

    • 1 The Written Word
      (pp. 7-24)

      Just as we may speak a common language but each do so in our individual voice, we may all write a common type of script yet render it in our own distinctive hand. And—to continue the analogy—just as a talented impersonator may mimic someone’s voice, a skillful forger may produce a convincing imitation of another’s handwriting.

      To uncover the forger’s presence and expose his or her historical fakery, commercial fraud, and other criminal activities, the document detective must have a thorough understanding of all aspects of handwriting. The following discussions of the evolution of handwriting and of graphology...

    • 2 Examining Handwriting and Typewriting
      (pp. 25-58)

      In addition to detecting forgery the document examiner compares a questioned writing with known standards to attempt to make an identification, even in cases in which the writing may be disguised. This chapter discusses the following: class versus individual characteristics, handwriting exemplars and standards, identification factors, handwriting comparison, disguised writing and printing, illegibility and decipherment, and typewriting and other mechanical forms.

      As noted in the previous chapter, the individuality of handwriting has been recognized since antiquity and is the basis for both the pseudoscience of graphology and the forensic science of handwriting comparison. However, the mere demonstration of similarities between...

    • 3 Forged Writing
      (pp. 59-92)

      A part from handwriting comparison, in which the document examiner attempts to make an identification as to authorship of a writing by comparing it with known standards, forgery detection represents the major portion of the work of both the forensic examiner and the historical document specialist. In this chapter we examine the forger’s techniques, the warning signs that point to forgery, and the detection of nonforgery fakes.

      In attempting to fraudulently reproduce a particular handwriting, such as a given person’s signature, the forger resorts to one of a few methods: tracing, freehand copying, or mechanical placement.

      The most amateurish means...

  6. PART TWO. Additional Aspects

    • 4 A Multi-Evidential Approach
      (pp. 95-126)

      Although handwriting evidence is a major component of the document examiner’s work and may often be decisive in establishing forgery, other evidence can also be brought to bear on questions of authenticity, as has long been recognized. In the Roman era, for example, Quintilian (ca. A.D. 88) observed: “It is therefore necessary to examine all the writings relating to a case.... We may often too, find a thread broken, or wax disturbed, or signatures without attestation; all of which points, unless we settle them at home, will embarrass us unexpectedly in the Forum.”¹ More recently, in hisScientific Examination of...

    • 5 Macroscopic and Microscopic Study
      (pp. 127-153)

      A careful study of any questioned document begins with a thorough examination of its elements, conducted in good light. Sometimes this is but a preliminary to a further examination of the document, including a detailed study of the handwriting or sophisticated scientific analyses of the paper, ink, and other components. However, quite often the visual inspection alone is sufficient to reveal that a document is not genuine. Such inspection may consist either ofmacroscopy,the scrutiny of things visible to the naked eye (or with an ordinary magnifying glass) 1 ormicroscopy,investigation by means of the microscope.

      Macroscopic examination,...

    • 6 Spectral Techniques
      (pp. 154-176)

      Occasionally one may notice that an article of clothing or other item has a slightly different color under fluorescent light than it does under incandescent light, or that a spot on a shirt or blouse is more noticeable in one light than another. By taking advantage of the different properties of the visible spectrum—as well as those of the invisible—the forensic document examiner greatly augments his or her ability to detect forgeries as well as to handle other document problems that may be presented.

      Visible light is simply one portion of what is known as the electromagnetic spectrum...

    • 7 Chemical and Instrumental Tests
      (pp. 177-195)

      Thus far we have discussed only nondestructive tests. Because of the inherent value of documents—their legal or historical or collectible worth—it is usually important that they not be damaged or defaced. Horror stories about documents that have been ruined as a result of carelessness, ignorance, or lack of appreciation are all too common.

      In addition to the mishandling of documents that are not properly protected, the result, say, of excessive handling by jurors,¹ amateur investigators have defaced many documents. For instance, one attempted to read erased pencil writing by the Dick Tracy approach to enhancing indentations: rubbing the...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 196-214)
  8. Recommended Works
    (pp. 215-219)
  9. Index
    (pp. 220-228)