Questioned Document Examination:-
A “questioned” document is any signature, handwriting, typewriting, or other mark whose source or authenticity is in dispute or doubtful. Letters, checks, driver licenses, contracts, wills, voter registrations, passports, petitions, threatening letters, suicide notes, and lottery tickets are the most common questioned documents, although marks on doors, walls, windows, or boards would also be included by definition.
QDE or Questioned Document Examination has been a profession at least since 1870.
QUESTIONED DOCUMENT EXAMINATION frequently is found in cases of forgery, counterfeiting, mail fraud, kidnapping, con games, embezzlement, gambling, organized crime, white collar crime, art crime, theft, robbery, arson, burglary, homicide, serial murder, psychological profiling, and deviant sex crime.
A number of famous cases over the years, some involving wrongful conviction — the Dreyfus affair; Bruno Hauptmann and the Lindbergh Kidnapping; the Hitler Diary profiling controversy; and Clifford Irving’s forgery of Howard Hughes signature and Mormon documents — were showcases for the talents of various experts at QDE. It’s strength, drawn from civil law, is that expert opinion can overturn (alleged) eyewitness opinion.
- Historically QDE has been somewhat of an inclusive profession, even to the point where so-called pseudo-experts (in palmistry and fortune-telling) were sometimes welcome, and even today, it suffers from a bit of identity crisis in that at least eight different, or related, areas can be identified.
- Questioned Document Examiners – A document examiner analyzes any questioned document and is capable of more than just questions of authorship limited only by their access to laboratory equipment.
- Historical Dating – These is work involving the verification of age and worth of a document or object, sometimes done by a document examiner, and can get as complicated as Carbon-14 dating.
- Fraud Investigators – This is work that often overlaps with that of the document examiner and focuses on the money trail and criminal intent.
- Paper & Ink Specialists – These are public or private experts who date, type, source, and/or catalogue various types of paper, watermarks, ink, printing/copy/fax machines, computer cartridges, etc., using chemical methods.
- Forgery Specialists – These are public or private experts who analyze altered, obliterated, changed, or doctored documents and photos using infrared lighting, expensive spectrography equipment, or digital enhancement techniques.
- Handwriting Analysts – These are usually psychology experts who assess personality traits from handwriting samples, also called graphologists or graphoanalysts.
- Forensic stylistics refers to the same purpose but by looking at semantics, spelling, word choice, syntax, and phraseology.
- Typewriting Analysts – These are experts on the origin, make, and model used in typewritten material.
- Computer Crime Investigators – This is an emerging group that relates to QDE through some common investigative and testimonial procedures.
Experts at IFSR can conduct the following categories of Document Verification:-
- Identification of handwriting and signatures.
- Identification of a document as a forgery.
- Examination of Paper Quality & Stamp.
- Identification of typewriters, check writers, and photocopies.
- Detection of alterations, additions, deletions, or substitutions.
- Deciphering alterations and erasures.
- Identification and deciphering of indented writing.
- Comparisons of inks and identification of type of writing instrument.
- Identification of Typewriters & Printers.
- Identification of Indented Writing.
- Detection and Decipherment of Obliterations and Alterations.
- Analysis of marks like Punch marks, Staple marks, U-clip marks.