Applying International Standards to
South African cases
Forensic investigations of questioned signatures, anonymous handwriting and document fraud.
As a detective of the written word and of the page, my service philosophy is:
- Thorough, detailed forensic examination of all aspects of document fraud.
- To always go the extra mile for clients.
- Confidentiality guaranteed.
- Clear, logical reports – expert opinion supported by illustrations of evidence.
Andrea le Sueur
Certified forensic document examiner and handwriting expert based in Hout Bay, Cape Town. She is certified by the Scientific Association of Forensic Examiners (SAFE®) (USA).
Cases of suspected forgery and document fraud create considerable stress for all concerned. As a certified forensic document examiner CFDE®, I apply internationally-recognised techniques to answer questions such as:
- Is this signature authentic?
- Has the document been fraudulently altered?
- Who wrote it?
- Why don’t the numbers add up?
FDE CASE METER
Questioned signatures on wills & contracts
Anonymous handwriting, tampering & handwritten numbers
Nowadays most numerical work is computerised. However, alterations to handwritten dates and numbers can still occur in cases of document fraud.
HR, procurement, bookkeeping and accountancy departments may have to deal with altered numbers. Many types of documents can be involved, over and above the obvious ones such as invoices and receipts. Dates can be changed by the addition of a few strokes of the pen.
“This doesn’t look anything like Daddy’s signature!”
It is bad enough to lose a loved one, let alone to discover a last will and testament that the heirs did not know even existed. Such a will might not actually have been signed by the testator and is therefore not a true reflection of the deceased’s wishes in regard to the distribution of the estate.
Document tampering is the act of modifying the physical properties of a document after it has been signed and concluded by the parties. It may take the form of page substitution, erasure, date alteration or content insertion after the contractual date.
Tampering leaves a paper trail of evidence that can be uncovered using special equipment and techniques. These include microscopic examination under ultraviolet or infrared lighting.
Most written communication is sent via text or email these days. However, when the writer wishes to remain anonymous, handwritten letters and notes – sent via snail mail or hand-delivered, are often the preferred choice. Old fashioned handwriting, it is believed, lends itself to disguise and the concealment of identity and origin.
I am able to provide an opinion on the most likely author (among a pool of suspects) of anonymous letters or threatening mail.
When it comes to document fraud or potentially fraudulent contracts or wills, attorneys and advocates often require the services of a handwriting expert.
Definition of ‘Handwriting Expert’: “One who is qualified to review handwriting or signatures for purposes of authentication and to verify authorship of documents and signatures.” Reed Hayes, CDE.
Signatures are the result of a lifetime of habitual movement by the writer. They contain unique characteristics that individualise them. Even if two people have exactly the same name, their signatures will differ. No two people sign their names exactly alike.
As a certified forensic document examiner CFDE® I apply internationally-recognised techniques to cases of signature verification. Advanced handwriting analysis involves the microscopic evaluation of subtle features of “movement memory”.
At the disciplinary hearing, we presented the evidence and your report, which resulted in the desired outcome.
Diligently and successfully fulfilled our mandate.
Thorough and always willing to take the time to discuss our concerns and respond to our questions.
Efficient, attentive and comprehensive in considering the questioned documents.
Two high-calibre reports.
Thank you, very thorough and informative.
We were very impressed.
Many thanks for your prompt assistance herein.
You were very professional to work with.
We really appreciate the professionalism which you have displayed in dealing with this sensitive matter.
Thanks Andrea as usual for your extremely professional and excellent report!
Thank you so much. We really appreciate your help and efficient service. It is so appreciated.
Your report speaks for itself.
We are confident, given Ms le Sueur’s professional service to our clients and our firm, in recommending her services as a forensic document examiner.