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Electronic cut-and-paste documents
Michael N. Wakshull --Forensic Document Examiner Michael N. Wakshull --Forensic Document Examiner
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Temecula , CA
Sunday, May 26, 2019


The fake slowed down image of Nancy Pelosi speaking made me realize how prevalent the use of software is to create false images passed off as legitimate images. In my profession as a forensic document examiner I am seeing this more frequently.

I have three #legal #forensic document cases from #attorneys involving what is called a #cut-and-paste #signatures. Traditionally, these signatures were cut from a legitimate document that a person had signed then pasted onto another document. A photocopy was made of the manufactured document. The photocopy was then presented as a copy of an original document.

During the past few years I’ve had examples in which the cut-and-paste was performed using software such as Photoshop or GIMP. Legitimate documents were scanned into the computer. Using software, the signatures were lifted from the scan of the legitimate document then placed onto a document the person did not sign. In several cases the person did not do a very good job placing the cut signature onto the new document. In this manner I showed that although the signature was legitimate, the document itself was not legitimate.

In the three #legal cases mentioned above, the person performing the cut and paste became a little more creative than just lifting a signature from a document and placing it onto another document. Manipulating the size and shape of the signatures is a simple task using software. The result is that the two signatures appeared to be written by the same person yet are not duplicates of each other. I was able to overlay one signature on top of the other than adjust the height or the width of the signature to determine whether they were identical. Usually small artifacts on the page will be lifted along with the signature. When these artifacts coincide in the overlay, it is apparent that one is a copy of the other. When both are photocopies, maybe they are both false documents with both signatures having been lifted from a third unknown document.

Other techniques I’ve seen are placing the cut signature at a different orientation to a signature line than in the source signature. This gives the illusion that the signatures were executed at different times since the relationship to the signature line differs in each document.

Knowing the source of your document is very important. If you question whether a photocopy is legitimate, ask the source of the photocopy, “How do you know this is legitimate?”. When you continue to have questions about the authenticity of a photocopy, ask to see the original document. Check to make sure the signature is ink from a pen rather than printed using toner or ink jet. Modern color photocopiers can be so good that the photocopied signature may appear to be legitimate. You may need to examine the signature with a microscope to determine whether it is a photocopy or signed in ink with a pen.

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.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Michael N. Wakshull
Title: Forensic Document Examiner
Group: Q9 Consutling, Inc.
Dateline: Temecula, CA United States
Direct Phone: 1-951-252-4929
Cell Phone: 805-501-3388
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