U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Simulated Signatures: Forgery by Imitation

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Identification Volume: 45 Issue: 3 Dated: (May/June 1995) Pages: 283-297
J A Black
Date Published
15 pages
This paper describes the various mechanics involved in creating simulated signatures (forgeries) and identifies indicators of these mechanics.
A simulated writing is one in which the attempt is made to copy or imitate the writing of another as is done in ordinary signature forgery. A number of methods are available for a forger to use in the construction of a signature that may appear to the laypersons as genuine. These include free-hand simulation, tracing, and reproduction by electrostatic copier or computer. Free-hand simulation with a model available begins with the forger placing the genuine signature near the paper on which the simulated forgery will be placed. Then, using either pen or pencil, the forger draws a picture of the genuine signature. Under magnification, such simulations may reveal numerous pen stops and lifts or signs of correction, along with indications of a slow, tremulous line quality. Less artistic forgers often use tracings by various means to produce simulated signatures. The hallmark of a simulated signature, whether produced by freehand drawing or by tracing, is the lack of fluency or naturalness revealed by line quality that is slow, hesitant, and tremulous. Computers in combination with laser printers have been used to produce not only forged signatures, but counterfeit documents as well. A genuine signature may be captured by using a scanner or a television camera that converts the image into a digitized signal that is stored in the computer and can be printed with a laser printer. Often a computer-generated signature can be detected by an observable notched effect to the line created by the matrix of the scanner or printer. Four case studies are presented. 10 figures and 5 references