What is a forged signature
Forgery is a legal term requiring an element of intent to defraud, but in it’s simplest definition, a forged signature is a signature that has been determined not to be genuine and that actual fraud was determined. The ultimate decision whether a disputed signature or document is a forgery is determined by the judge or jury (the triers of fact) and is not within a document examiner’s role to determine the “intent” of the writer. It is not appropriate for a document examiner to use the term forgery in reports or while testifying as it given an impression that the forensic document examiner (fde) does not properly understand their role.
Examining a suspect signature on a document is a frequent request received by a forensic document examiner. Deciding if the signature is genuine or not requires careful examination of several facets of the signature including line quality, speed, letter formations, height relationships, and size. Because signatures are the most common type of forgery, suspect signature cases appear in the authentication of sports memorabilia, contested wills and deeds, employment contracts, and checks. Sometimes a signature can be identified to a known writer through a handwriting comparison, however many signature examinations cannot be definitely determined due to limiting factors. If limiting factors interfere with the examination, the conclusion falls within a range of probability. The ability of a document examiner to detect a forged signature is challenging in today’s digital age. This article focuses on methods of forged signatures and detection techniques.