Discovery of possible forged signatures

This video about examination of possibly forged signatures – methods of discovery is the fifth in a series about the work of a forensic handwriting expert. It is taken from a presentation that was delivered at the San Diego Law Library to attorneys for MCLE credit. The audience was practicing attorneys.

The example cases in this video are:

  1. A Los Angeles federal money laundering case. The question was whether the defendant signed money orders with forged signatures. He was convicted of signing other money orders with forged signatures. He denied having signed these money orders. An exercise that offers the viewer of the video to solve the case is included.
  2. A probate case from Orange County, California. The question was whether the decadent signed two letters. The letters bequeathed large portions of his estate to the plaintiff. The defense claimed forgery was used to place the signatures on the letters. The court agreed with the defendant. The Court ruled the forged signatures were written by the plaintiff for the purpose of defrauding the Court.
  3. An example is shown from the FBI’s web site. The question raised in the FBI’s whitepaper is whether this represents a form of a forged signature.

Much of the work performed by a forensic document examiner is comparing a questioned signature against several signatures known to have been written by the person whose name is written in the signature. Common features and differences between the of the questioned signature and known signatures are examined. The forensic handwriting expert then weighs whether the differences outweigh the similarities. An opinion is rendered to the authenticity of the questioned signature.

Forensic document examiners do not opine to forged signatures. We opine to simulated signatures. The reason is that forgery is a legal term. Unless the forensic document examiner is also an attorney they may receive an objection if they opine to forgery. Simulated signature means that the signature was written by someone other than the person whose name is written. The intent of the writer is not considered.

Watch the video to learn more.