Art Fraud in the Spotlight | Questionable Document Not Examined | Case Dismissed

This news article discusses the acquittal of two men in an art fraud case involving Brett Whiteley.  

Whilst the mechanics of the crown decision to withdraw their case at the appeal will no doubt be the subject of some discussion in Melbourne, there is some clear reference to the question of the use of expertise, most particularly 'art expertise'.  It is a vexing question in an area where expertise is no doubt quite specific .... an expert on Brett Whiteley may not be an expert on Picasso.  

If the court could answer the question themselves, then there would be no need to ask anyone else, but this is not the case.  If the court requires a question to be answered in search of the truth, then they need to be presented with evidence from a reliable source.  If that source is required to use experience as compared to empirical / statistical data, then the court is entitled to hear that evidence, understand the arguements for and against it, weight it appropriately, and form a conclusion.

This is a very interesting discussion for the world of art expertise, where the capacity to build empirical data of validity would be a difficult task.     

Of course, the main contention in this acquittal was the failure of the crown to address the question of the veracity of a 1989 carbon copy consignment note.  Documentary evidence is our business and an examination of this document may / may not reveal substantial evidence in response to the question.

Further reading on the circumstances around the consignment note are found in the article below:     

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/visual-arts/brett-whiteley/news-story/455b75d5a1c747c884f2426a5fe1c130  

Jeff Sessions has ended an alliance between the Justice Department and independent scientists to raise standards of forensic science

The review of forensic science has been enormously valuable for scientific and social reasons. 

To be independent, it is important that impartiality and objectivity are in play for those tasked with the review process, and like forensic science itself, an open assessment is conducted with evidence (infomation) from all parties considered.  

Forensic science reviews are as much about the legal system as the science, as this is where evidence will play out.  

I'm sure both sides of the argument around the closure of this review will be discussed further.      

Fraudulent Documents in the Child Care System

This article is an example of the depth of fraudulent documents in the community.  

The documents themselves are supportive of the administrative requirements for something (in this case receiving government funds).  This is different to a document being directly used to facilitate a fraud (such as a counterfeit cheque being submitted to a bank).

In some ways, people may feel that the offence is less severe if it is not direct, but it is all fraud.

Any discrepancy in paperwork or supporting documents associated with a claim should be scrutinised carefully, as the fraud may be sitting in the background.   

 

Interpretation of Forensic Results - NSW Police

Click on the tilte for a link to the article. 

This case highlights the 'shades of grey' that come with forensic results.  At some point, there needs to be an interpretation of the evidence, and the weight of the evidence towards the ultimate outcome.  

Surrounding information / evidence can greatly assist in these situations, however where it is left to the domain of the forensic evidence alone, a degree of subjective assessment may need to be employed.  

In this case, there does not appear to be any dispute around the actual forensic outcome, the issue is around the interpretation of that outcome.    

Stolen Identity Documents | Fake Doctor | Australia

An interesting story with raminfications.  Click on the tile for a link to the news article.  

Any industry that is reliant on international qualification documentation could be the subject of some level of fraud or misrepresentation.  Addressing this type of issue requires the ability to review documents presented, to evaluate any document security or production features and consider the information that is present.  All of this needs to be done in a timely manner, and with a structure in place that will support staff who choose to challenge the documents.  

There is evidence to support that untrained staff will not recognise irregularities on documents, which cannot be overcome by any other means than building and refreshing the required skills in a structured and measured way.       

Forensic Food Science Criticism and Implications

An interesting read around food forensics (a significantly growing field).  

In answering the ultimate question being asked, vastly different results are shown based on the use of two different methodologies.  I would assume that different products have been tested, which would have been accounted for in the technical findings.

I guess it really comes down to 'what was the initial testing authority asked to do ?', and what was the responding organisations asked to do?.  Was it in fact the same question? And what is the appropriate methodology to be employed to respond to the respective questions?  

The implication for reputations could affect both the company being tested (in this case Subway) and the testing authority (in this case Trent University Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory).   

Identifying Fraudulent Passports | Survey says 68% FAIL!!

This news article is offering statistics on the capability of people in the community to detect forged passports.  It is stated that 68% are unable to correctly identify a fraudulent passport (based on a survey of 1013 people).

The full nature of the testing is not described, but it is a statistic nonetheless.

Also in this article is a UK Home Office guide to detecting fraudulent passports ( and other identity documents).  All of the suggested 8 suggestions are worthwhile, however we note that some basic knowledge of passport production and security features is required for these to be effective.  

This, IMHO, is one of the major gaps in the use of identity documents outside of the border control environment.  Where industries, be it financial or other, rely on identity documents for verification in conducting business, the base knowledge level on how passport security features operate is required for all employees who see these documents.

Failure to skill staff in this area is leaving a gap that can be, and is, exploited.      

Forensic Science | DNA is not infallable

"DNA doesn't solve crimes in isolation. DNA profiling is an effective investigative tool to be used within the wider context of all the other evidence in a case."

This has always been the case, as those in the forensic industry are well aware.  

There is an important distinction between the title and the story.  

The primary example used in this article is that of the British man Adam Scott who was arrested for rape and subsequently found not to be the person responsible.  

By interpretation of the provided information, the comparative aspect of the DNA analysis was correct, it was the integrity of the overall process failed.       

Asylum Seekers and Altered Passports

An article discussing push and pull factors affecting asylum seeker.  

Throughout the article there is discussion around the use of altered passports, and the quality of these documents.  At one point, a passport forger indicates that 'he is not doing anything wrong' although the products he creates use 'stolen passports'.  A touch of self-deception involved, but none the less, an interesting perspective.     

Signature Forgery | Is it or isn't it?

'There is a clear difference between signatures of Maryam Nawaz on these documents. Advocate Shahid Hamid had to provide a magnifying glass to court for analyzing his defendant s signatures.' 

An interesting arguement presented during a Supreme Court trial in Pakistan.  The fact that one signature may have a somewhat different appearance to another is not evidence of a different writer. Signatures are the result of human movement, therefore natural variation will be evident.  To truly evaluate the significance of any pictorial difference between signatures, a suitable quantity of specimen signatures would be required for comparison.  

One member of the Supreme Court bench in this matter commented that only an expert on signatures could provide an opinion on this matter, whilst another confirmed that the signatures did appear to be different.  

Courts are ultimately responsible for the decision (another point raised in this article), but they must be appropriately informed.  In this case, a true evaluation and explanation of the issues that need to be considered would be warranted.