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Whose Signature is it Anyway

Published:Wednesday | March 23, 2016 | 2:41 PMJanelle Oswald
Beverley East shows the difference between a genuine and a fake signature.
Beverley East signs a copy of her book for attorney Wentworth Charles, who attended the fraudulent document examination seminar at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel recently.
Seminar participants use magnifying glasses to try to decipher differences between samples of handwriting at the recent fraudulent document examination seminar conducted by internationally renowned document examiner Beverley East.

Today's technology equips forgers and unscrupulous persons with powerful tools to pass off counterfeit signatures as real. Never before has it been so crucial for individuals or businesses to cross-examine their signature.

This begs the question: Do you know the number of times you lift your pen in your own signature?

"The answer is equivalent to your Personal Identification Number," says forensic document examiner Beverley East, recently honoured by the Washington-based Institute of Caribbean Studies for her expertise and work.

"The number of times you lift your pen is unique to you. Knowing this may save you in the future in your own fraud case," East told the participants in her recent seminar titled, 'Whose Signature Is It Anyway?' at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

The graphologist and author advised attorneys and banking executives how to secure themselves and their clients, using demonstrations about how to develop a keen eye to detail and how to examine documents.

"Always remember that people write in patterns and handwriting characteristics unique to their individual personality," East said.

"To spot a forger, look for size and letter formation and compare these to your own or your clients. There is always a pattern, which can often be reflected by their age and era. Everyone has their own style and flair with regard to their pen-stroke methods," East advised.


Preparing to launch a pioneering two-year accredited course in document examination for bankers, financial institutions, lawyers and any other professionals who are interested in the field, East said, "In order to eliminate the forger, you must know how a person writes."

East gave tips on pen and ink pressure on paper, how dates and creases on a page can help in identifying the forger and even what secrets in the way a pen or pencil is held will hold. She said dates are very important because sometimes the signature is convincing however, forgers usually slip up with the date.

East highlighted differences in the date writing styles of the elderly versus a younger person - by date, month, year in that order, or the other way around.

Another give-away, East said, is "the line going through the number seven known as 'the German', - as a way to identify an impostor. Always look for signs and patterns when examining a document. This will save your money and assets."