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Examining Invoices or Documents That May Have Been Altered

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  1. Compare the suspect document to other documents from the same person or the similar circumstances.

  2. Look at the colours of the inks. If more than one colour was used is, is its use logical, for example if a supervisor used another colour to approve the document. If the colour is different only for particular words, parts of words, or numbers then it may warrant further examination or inquiry.

  3. Look at the writing or numbers to see if they are thicker or thinner than the rest of the document. This may indicate that they were not written at the same time as the rest of the document. Look also for obvious things, such as the original in ball point pen and the alteration in biro.

  4. Look for changes in the slope of letters or words.

  5. Observe changes in the clarity, consistency and shading of line. When people forge another personís handwriting the forged line often does not have the changes from light to dark that normal writing has. The original writer may have a more or less sure line, with more or less fine squiggles, etc.

  6. Look for writing and numbers that are taller or shorter than others, and also ones that are out of alignment.

  7. Examine rubbings out, whiter used, crossings out, etc. Are these over key items, totals, full stops, endings of sentences, the commas or points in numbers, or other areas that may be suspicious?

  8. Look for numbers that have been changed. Examples might include a 4 changed to a 9, a 6 to an 8, a 3 to an 8, a 7 to a 9, a 1 to a 7, etc.

  9. Hold the document up to the light to see changes that you might otherwise not have noticed.

  10. Examine the back of the document to see whether indentations are even or if some stand out as being greater or softer than the rest of the document.


An indicator from this does not necessarily mean that the document has been improperly altered, these are no more than indicators. This list should also not be taken as containing every single indicator. There are forensic experts that specialise in examining suspect documents and their service may be required.

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For more tips, advice and practical pointers see Fraudproof Your  Business Manual.