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“Cut and Paste” is often used to refer to the process were a genuine signature is lifted from one document and dropped onto a second document.

If this is done without the consent of the individual concerned it is essentially an act of forgery. Cut and paste can be done in an old school way by cutting a genuine signature from a piece of paper and sticking it onto the new document which is then photocopied. The photocopy can often shows signs of the cut and paste such as faint shadow lines or misalignment of signature lines and any accompanying text that has been transferred over with the signature. Under microscopic examination the font size of any text close to the signature may be slightly different or the degree of pixilation may be markedly better or worse than the rest of the text on the document.

Cut and paste can also be achieved electronically using computer programs such as Photoshop. Here a genuine signature is photographed or scanned and tidied up with the software before being dropped onto the fraudulent document. The colour may be altered or the signature stretched or resized. The resultant document is then simply printed out for distribution.  An electronic cut and paste can be more difficult to detect but often the forger may leave some clues behind. Unusual marks on the signature line may be indicators that the source or model signature used may have had some overlaps with computer generated text. When the signature was cleaned by the forger they may have neglected to change the colour of these marks on the signature line.

The best way to uncover a cut and paste is to locate the model signature used by the forger. Often this may mean trawling through dozens of documents that the forger may have had access to and comparing signatures until the model is found.  Once the model is located it is a simple task to overlay the signatures and compare any similarities and differences. The model signature may not initially be an exact match in size as a typical photocopying process can change the size of a document by up to 1% or the image may have been resized in software by the forger.  An exact match is indicative of a cut and paste. No individual signs their signature exactly the same way twice. This is one of the basic principles of handwriting examination – humans are not capable of machine like repetition. If two signatures are an exact match then at least one of these is a copy. They could both of course be copies of a third signature which in itself may or may not be genuine!

In one such case below I managed to locate the model signature after wading through 50 or so documents that the suspected individual had had access to.

If a cut and paste is suspected the original document should always be sought. It does of course not exist in the case of a cut and paste but often a document may be produced which purports to be an original. Microscopic examination of this document will confirm if it is an original, or not.

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