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Discover a cut-and-paste without the source document
Michael Wakshull -- Forensic Document Examiner Michael Wakshull -- Forensic Document Examiner
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Temecula , CA
Thursday, December 29, 2016

Cut and paste without source

Cut and paste without source

Generally, a document examiner cannot determine that a signature on a photocopy is cut and paste unless the source signature is available. There are exceptions to this rule. When a person is careless creating a document that will be passed as authentic, the document examiner can determine the photocopy is not made from an authentic document.

In a case I demonstrated that a photocopy was created using cut and paste signatures. Attributes of the typed text on the document were compared with the signature lines on the document. Also, the font used for the name under the signature line was compared with the font in the remainder of the document.

A person created a contract, then placed two signatures onto the document. I could not determine whether they were placed onto the page using computer software such as Photoshop, or they were placed onto the page from a manual cutout.

A telltale sign in the example is the signature lines are sloped down to the right for each signature. All the computer printed text on the page was horizontal. If the signature lines were printed on the page with the rest of the printed text, they would have been printed horizontally.

The left-side signature line is indented further right than the bullets in the primary text. This alone does not mean the signature line was pasted onto the contract. It is possible that a person typed leading spaces before starting the signature line.

The signature lines for each person do not align vertically. The signature line on the left side of the page is higher than the signature line on the right side of the page. Have they been printed onto the document, they would align vertically. The vertical distance between the two lines is different from the vertical distance between two of the printed lines of text.

There were many other anomalies on the page, including differences in the font in the names printed below the signature lines and the font in the text of the contract.

The result of the examination is signatures on the contract were not part of the original contract. Therefore, the contract document is not authentic. In this case the source documents for the signatures on the contract were not available. The discrepancies resulted in an opinion the document was created by a a cut and paste of the signatures onto the typed document. The mechanism used to place the signatures onto the typed document is unknown.

About the Author: Michael Wakshull, president of Q9 Consulting, is a civil and criminal court-qualified forensic document examiner providing services throughout the U.S.A. Cases include authentication of handwritten and computer-generated documents. Wakshull holds a Master of Science in technology management, a graduate school certificate in forensic document examination and has spoken at international forensics conferences including the World Congress of Forensics in China. He authors and presents document examination courses for minimum continuing legal education (MCLE). Wakshull is a member of the National Association of Document Examiners, past president of the San Diego Chapter of Forensic Expert Witness Association (FEWA), ASTM International, and a senior member of the American Society for Quality.

Mike has authored two books on the topic of forensic document examination. 

A National Speakers Association member, he is available to speak on these subjects.

Q9 Consutling, Inc.
Temecula, CA
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