Secure forensic analysis of document forgery in criminal trials

Under the leadership of the Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU) Cottbus-Senftenberg, 37 researchers from 16 countries show in a new international study how document forgeries can be reliably detected in a combined process

A tenant falsifies her lease and claims to the new owners that the rent is lower. Examples like these are numerous in criminal proceedings. To reliably detect forgery, a single analytical procedure is often not enough. A new study published in the journal "Science & Justice" by the British Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences, one of the oldest and most renowned forensic societies in the world, now shows how the reliability of the analysis can be increased.

The forensic scenario examined in the study simulates the manipulation of a three-page real estate lease. The project's researchers analyzed identical copies created by the Judicial Police in Lisbon specifically for the project. In 18 mostly imaging analysis procedures, the researchers obtained data on the printing technique, the printer used, the paper and the ink, among other things.

"The results show that only the combination of the various analysis methods allows precise conclusions to be drawn about whether a document has been forged," said lead author Prof. Dr. Thomas Fischer of BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg. "We found that the workflow of the investigation also has a major influence on the result. For example, it is crucial that the evidence is examined in a first step using analysis methods that do not destroy the document, such as comparing paper densities, texture, color tones and other material properties. Only then can microinvasive procedures such as a laser bombardment followed by analysis of the vaporized components and, finally, destructive procedures such as extracting the inks from the paper and separating them into their individual components take place."

The results of the project were obtained as part of an international research project on multimodal imaging techniques in forensics "MULTIFORESEE" funded by the European Union.


apl. Prof. PD Dr. rer. nat. habil. Thomas Fischer
Zentrales Analytisches Labor (ZAL)
T +49 (0) 355 69-2840
A combined analysis procedure optimizes the search for document forgeries using the example of a rental agreement