Forensic Document Examination is the New Frontier for Businesses’ Success

Identity fraud is one of the most pervasive criminal threats digital industries have been experiencing ever since they transformed their operations. Due to this, businesses are undergoing a tremendous increase in financial crimes, false medical claims, and immigration scams. Customers can avail any online service by providing confidential information such as their name, date of birth, and bank details. However, these convenience-driving measures are exposing both clients and businesses to cybercrimes. 

Document forgery is the easiest way for criminals to conceal their true selves and indulge in financial or identity fraud. In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received over 1.4 million identity theft reports from various regions of the United States (US). Considering the increase in crimes, businesses require more critical analysis of customers’ identities and need to invest in forensic document examination.

Forensic Forgery Verification – a New Era for Document Authentication

Prevailing data extraction technologies such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) assist digital industries in safeguarding their operations. These advanced IDV tools help businesses validate documents efficiently by identifying tamperings within the papers. As criminals employ several advanced techniques to exploit digital services, forensic forgery verification solutions place barriers in their way.

In previous years, documents were sent to physical laboratories with modern tools such as microscopes, ultraviolet light sources, digital imaging instrumentation, and handwriting analysis gadgets. Manual verifiers are unable to lay bare the tampering criminals are committing as the long-in-use forensic document examination machinery is no longer compatible. Moreover, these inefficiencies are driving businesses to failure in curbing fraud risks. Hence, the promise of forgery-proof documents remains a holy grail for fraudsters.

Sectors providing digital services, particularly financial firms, immigration agencies, educational institutions, and the travel industry, are most exposed to manipulated documents. These forgeries help imposters apply for academic admissions, perform high-risk transactions, avail medical benefits, and become a citizen of any foreign state. However, by integrating forensic document analysis, industries can implement necessary fraud prevention measures. With automated data extraction and seamless validation of information, ML-driven scientific techniques cover every loophole to restrict criminals’ onboarding. 

Working Mechanisms for Forensic Examination of Documents 

Forensic forgery analysis refers to critical scientific examination of documents to ensure their legitimacy by validating the authenticity of characters and other information within them. Experts responsible for carrying out the analysis use techniques such as ultraviolet light sources, handwriting evaluation tools, and photography assessment. 

Document forensic validation involves non-destructive techniques to examine ink color, submerged texts, and blurred alphabets. For papers created by printers, typewriters, and fax machines, examiners reach out to U.S. Secret Service Forensic Laboratory as it contains handwriting samples from millions of writers. Countries across the globe have designated authorities to supervise and overlook the process of forensic forgery verification. In the US, the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners (ABFDE) is responsible for performing this duty. 

Prominent Crimes Related to Document Fraud 

Fake documents are of great use for criminals to miraculously commit money laundering, immigration scams, narcotrafficking, illegal trade, and human captivity. Manual document verification methods are outdated in front of the advanced tampering techniques criminals are deploying. Furthermore, in a couple of years, multiple crime cases where identity fraud helped criminals have surfaced. 

Inadequate forensic document examination mechanisms also facilitate fraudsters committing illegal migration, account takeover fraud, and other scams. Read on to know more about the high-profile cases across different jurisdictions. 

Virginia Beach Police Department Unconstitutional Tactic

The Virginia police department used forged documents on at least five occasions between March 2016 and February 2020. They prepared fake employees’ DNA and signature analysis reports to present in court as supporting evidence against criminals under investigation. 

“An extremely troubling and potentially unconstitutional tactic that abused the name of the Commonwealth to try to coerce confessions,” stated Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring regarding the Police Department’s malicious activity. As per findings from the investigation against suspected officers, they provided forensic documents with forged letterheads, contact information, and signatures.

The Hellenic Police Demolished a Document Forgery Criminal Network 

The Hellenic Police/Aliens Division of Attica (Ελληνική Αστυνομία), under the supervision of Europol, dismantled a group of eight criminals involved in forensic document forgery. These suspects were providing fake IDs to migrant and human smuggling networks. The officers confiscated over 362 forged documents, including 11 asylum papers, 156 ID cards, 153 passports, and 42 residence permits. 

Europol’s headquarters in the Hague, Netherlands, provides forensic document analysis assistance to 27 EU Member States. These services aid in countering cyber threats, money laundering, and terrorism. During its investigation against the illegal immigration providing syndicate, two smuggling routes were also highlighted between Egypt and Greece. The criminals were concealing the identities of individuals to help them pass through the gate. For this, they were fooling the document verification process carried out by regulatory bodies.

Spanish Police Clawed a Group Forging Immigration Documents

The Spanish police arrested eight people belonging to immigration scam rings. These were involved in clearing ways for 15 individuals to illegitimately enter the country. Document forgeries involved altering and creating fake educational as well as health records. While showing an increased need for treatment or learning opportunities, this syndicate manipulated their contacts in Spain to avail immigration.

Criminals charged the individuals around 20,000 to 40,000 euros to provide them with fake documents for guaranteed entrance into Spain. Compared to the deadly boat routes between Morocco and Spain, forensic document forgeries are considered the easiest to bypass immigration checks. Moreover, in its fight against criminals, Spanish police demolished a ring involving a registered lawyer and several nationals.

Forensic Document Verification – Regulations to Halt Crimes

In order to curb criminal threats, legal authorities are mandating several standards. Regulatory watchdogs such as Financial Action Task Force (FATF) are making forensic examination of documents a liability as an effort to validate the true identities of customers. 

Businesses require document forgery detection technologies that provide automated data extraction and analysis to detect tamperings. Furthermore, jurisdictions across the globe are legislating and implementing stringent legal standards to halt document forgeries.  

Requirements Within Australia

Section 83A in Australia’s Crimes Act states that the use of false documents with the intention to make a particular identity look legitimate is a criminal offense. The penalty for the accused is imprisonment of 10 years or a fine, depending on the severity of the crimes.

Requirements Within Canada

Canada holds the most stringent requirements for forensic document forgeries. In sections 366, 367, and 368 of the Criminal Code, tampering with information within government-issued papers is a serious legal offense. Furthermore, the regulation outlines stringent penalties for criminals with high-value fines and imprisonment of 14 years. To limit forensic document fraud and discourage criminals in the first place, law enforcement agencies within Canada have dismantled several syndicates.

Requirements Within Europe

The European Regulation (EU) 2020/493 serves the purpose of creating an efficient forensic examination of documents systems. Its applications apply to all information provided by member countries, international organizations, and third countries not belonging to the EU’s community. Furthermore, criminals committing forensic document forgeries will be subject to severe penalties or imprisonment. Moreover, national legislation regarding this type of identity fraud within Europe also differs pertaining to the severity of crimes. 

Forensic Document Exam – A Sure Way to Ensure KYC Compliance

Digital industries are struggling to overcome the high risk of forensic document fraud, which drives financial losses, reputational damages, legal repercussions, and a negative customer experience. However, businesses can better prevent identity fraud by harnessing AI-powered technologies backed by thousands of algorithms. These document forensic examination solutions leverage OCR and ICR tools to extract data without discrepancies. Machine learning-backed forensic forgery verification services validate information and provide insights into customers’ backgrounds. 

With automated forensic document authentication solutions in place, businesses can retain a considerable user base, rein in charge of manual methods, and position themselves as KYC compliant service providers. Hence, integrating these services streamlines industries’ information legitimacy analysis process. 

Final Thoughts

Forensic document examination is a viable solution for businesses to identify customers and ensure secure digital onboarding. With access to global records, these technology-driven tools leverage instant verification while limiting fraudulent losses. Regulatory watchdogs are bringing in strict requirements for industries dealing with documents to integrate efficient measures for curbing fraud risks. 

Criminals use false information and papers to avail immigration, medical services, financial benefits, and much more. Therefore, respective sectors require forensic document analysis. Hence, businesses can identify global customers in real time while keeping fraudsters at bay.