Can You Trust a Notarized Signature?

Magnifying glass on a legal document

If you suspect that there has been some hanky-panky on a document, you should go with your intuition and look into the reasons why. Don’t think that a signature is genuine just because it has a notary seal. In my work, I see many fabricated notary acts. These documents make their way to my lab because someone like you or your client questioned the validity of the signature on the document despite it being notarized.

In my experience, a fake notarized document usually occurs in one of two ways.

First, the notary act was performed by a friend or office colleague who agrees to do the notary without the signer present – a real no-no. Worse yet, a commissioned notary knowingly stamps and signs a fake document – an even bigger no-no.

Second, the document is a complete fabrication. The signature may be a copy and paste, a simulation of the real signature, or just a simple forgery of the name written in cursive. The notary portion could be the real thing, part of an altered document or it can also be manufactured with the magic of office machines and software. Either way, once a copy of the misleading document is produced, my job becomes interesting.

A forensic document examiner does more than just identify handwriting, although that is the majority of my work. We also analyze the physical contents of the document such as formatting, font usage, spacing, resolution, artifacts, printing process, and many more if we look at the inked original version.

Over the years it has surprised me how many times I am asked to examine for an alleged forged signature and discover that the entire document has been fabricated.

It is tough these days to take things at face value. The world of documents has been turned upside-down now that almost everyone has access to computers, printers, scanners, and copiers. Unless we have the original signed document with what is termed, a “wet ink” signature, it is almost impossible to know if a signature was written on the document or added with a machine. But with the help of a forensic document examiner, you may be able to get the answers you need to support your case.

I am in my lab every day and happy to assist you.