Electronic cut-and-paste documents

The fake slowed down image of Nancy Pelosi speaking mainly 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 #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 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 just 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, as the source of the photocopy, “How do you know this is legitimate?”. When you continue to have questions about the authenticity of a photocopy, asked 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 it 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.

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