Questioned Signatures

Questioned Signatures

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”.

Signature verification is a comparative scientific procedure in which a collection (a minimum of five but preferably more) of the victim’s known signatures and initials from the same period as the questioned document are compared to each other.

How do we determine whether a signature has been forged or not? The forensic process of signature verification is to look beyond the obvious. Minute features of the questioned signature (the one that is alleged to have been forged) are examined. Then, it is compared to a collection of signatures that are known to be genuine. The genuine signatures are referred to as ‘exemplars’ or ‘known signatures’.

If a questioned signature appears on a long document such as a will or contract, it is very important not to overlook the initials on each page of the document, or next to certain paragraphs. These tiny little squiggles can be very revealing!

Marked differences between two signatures. Are either, or both, genuine?

Types of cases involving questioned signatures

  • Allegations of forgery: signature verification on disputed wills, fraudulent contracts and a wide range of documents.
  • Determining whether a signature has been electronically reproduced (cut ‘n paste).
  • Determining whether a signature has been traced.
  • Determining whether signatures and initials are ‘wet ink’ originals or whether they are photocopies / scans.