Document Forensics deals with documents that are (or may be) in dispute, or whose authenticity is questioned. The primary purpose of forensic document examination is to answer questions about a document using a variety of scientific processes and methods. A document examiner answers questions relating to the reliability and authenticity of a document which may involve signatures, handwriting in general, or hand printing. Other issues may involve determining how or when a document was prepared, whether the document was altered in any way, or the recovery of information from erased or obliterated portions of the document. Document examiners also compare typewriting or other printed matter and perform ink and paper comparisons. In other words, as the name implies, they examine every part of the entire document as it is relevant to a case.
Intertel's document forensics capabilities
Accredited and well-respected forensic document examiners can be called upon to make scientific examinations, comparisons, and analyses of documents in order to:
- Establish genuineness or non-genuineness, to expose forgery, to reveal alterations, additions or deletions,
- identify or eliminate persons as the source of handwriting,
- identify or eliminate the source of typewriting or other impressions, marks, or relative evidence, and
- write reports or give testimony, when needed.
Forensic document examination includes the examination of:
- Comparison of inks, printers, scanners and photocopiers
- Handwriting and signatures
- Alterations and obliterations to documents
- Hand stamps
- Reconstruction of torn, shredded, flooded or burnt documents
- Relative sequencing of writings and printings
- Indented impressions of writing
- Developing latent fingerprints
What equipment is used in document forensics?
Without the following equipment, a company would not be able to provide the highest level of forensic document examination or related services:
Electrostatic Detection Apparatus
The leading technology for detecting indented writing on questioned documents. It works by creating an invisible electrostatic image of indented writing, which is then visualized by the application of charge sensitive toners. The sensitive imaging process reacts to sites of microscopic damage to fibres at the surface of a document, which have been created by abrasive interaction with overlying surfaces during the act of handwriting.
Video Spectral Comparator
A comprehensive digital imaging system providing an extensive range of facilities for detecting irregularities on altered and counterfeit documents. It is equipped with a high-resolution colour camera and zoom lens, a range of viewing filters, and multiple illumination souces from UV to visible to IR wavelengths. An integrated microspectrometer allows measurement of reflectance, transmission, and fluorescent features.
Lighting & Luminescence
Narrow band wavelengths include UV, violet, blue, blue-green, green, orange and red for detecting trace evidence and for examining chemically treated fingerprints. Different light forms can expose forgeries and alterations to documents by displaying differences in the infra-red absorption, infra-red luminescence, visible luminescence, water marks and paper opacity.
Multi Waveband Illumination
An examination of a document under short and long ultra-violet rays may detect chemical erasures, alterations, substituted pages, delicate stains due to artificial ageing. These rays may also prove useful in differentiating different types of paper and sealing gums. This is a non-destructive technique. An examination with UV rays does not deface or discolour a document in any way.
The stereo microscope uses two separate optical paths to provide slightly different viewing angles to the left and right eye. In this way it produces a 3D visualization of the sample being examined. It is an ideal instrument for determining chronological sequence of intersecting strokes; identifying the type of pen used to produce handwriting; detecting erasures or alterations; comparing printed matter, and detecting forgeries.
Chemical Fingerprint Development
Perhaps the most productive and cost-effective method of developing latent fingerprints on paper is treatment with Ninhydrin - which can be sprayed, painted or dipped. The amino acid in fingerprints (formed by minute sweat secretions which gather on the finger's unique ridges) are treated with a ninhydrin solution which turns the amino acid finger ridge patterns purple and therefore visible.
Thermal Fingerprint Development
Designed for the detection and enhancement of latent fingerprints using non-destructive thermal development. Evidence is placed on a motor driven conveyor and passed through an optimized heating element. The action of briefly raising the temperature of the document causes a chemical reaction between the latent fingerprint and the papers surface producing a fluorescent by-product that is visible under intense visible blue/green light.
HD Digital Imaging
High resolution flatbed scanners such as Epson Perfection V700, HP Scanjet 7400C, Canon LiDE 700F, Canon LiDE 100, Canon LiDE 60, as well as Canon SLR digital camera with additional macro lens, frame grabbers, digital microscope (for recording photomicrographs) and forensic imaging software are a must. Photo-quality color prints for demonstrative reports are printed using high resolution laser, inkjet and Polaroid printers.