With the advent of digitalisation and affordable miniaturised inkjet and laser printers, printing devices are now indispensable machines commonly found in offices and households, leading to the proliferation of printed documents. It is also not uncommon to find multi-functional “4-in-1” devices capable of performing print, copy, scan and fax functions within the same machine. Implications, however, are that creation of fraudulent documents can now be more easily accomplished by almost anyone with such ill-intent.
INKJET vs TONER PRINTING
Inkjet and laser printers, as well as photocopiers produce colour images and text using a mixture of four colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, commonly known as CMYK. While inkjet printers utilise liquid ink that deposits as microscopic drops of ink onto the paper, laser printers and photocopiers use toner made up of fine powders that fuse to the paper during the printing process.
In cases where disputed documents are suspected to be fraudulent or tampered with, comparison among the documents can be useful to:
- determine if they can be traced to a common source,
- provide investigative leads on the type of printer used, or
- provide evidence on how the disputed documents had been altered.
Forensic experts examine the printing characteristics on documents and conduct microscopic analysis of any features left behind by a specific printing device. Instrumental analysis of the printing inks and toners to examine their chemical composition can further assist in associating or differentiating various documents.
The two case studies below illustrate the usefulness of forensic examinations in tracing the printer used, and establishing that documents have been altered.
Case study 1: TFEG was engaged to assist in a case involving fraud and misappropriation of company funds. Our experts examined the printing characteristics and other microscopic features on numerous disputed documents. The findings provided evidence of fraud, and linked the fraudulent documents to a specific printer located in the office premises where the suspect worked.
Case study 2: TFEG examined several disputed documents and found evidence of tampering where additional rows of printed text were inserted into each document. Although there was insufficient evidence to link the documents to a specific printer, the forensic findings were useful as they assisted the client in substantiating his claim that the contents of the documents had been altered.
HOW WE CAN HELP YOU
Can a printed document can be linked to a specific printer? It depends on the nature of the printed document as well as the availability of comparison specimens. Contact our forensic experts with your queries or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.