Though the term "forgery" may be appropriately applied to a wide variety of processes involved in the making, adapting, or imitating something with the intent to deceive, it most frequently refers to fraudulently produced or altered documents and signatures.

In the governmental realm, forgery may involve counterfeit claims. An inside fraudster who wants to get a claim paid may forge the signature of the person authorized to approve the claim for payment with the result that a fraudulent claim gets paid.

Documents—invoices, receipts, etc.—may be forged to support an invalid claim or to increase the amount of an otherwise valid claim. For example, an employee may seek reimbursement from petty cash for the purchase of office supplies that was never made, using a forged receipt to support the claim. An employee or contractor entitled to a meal allowance might produce a forged restaurant receipt to collect more than what was actually paid for the meal.

Paper warrants, if not appropriately secured, can be stolen and signatures forged. A tax refund warrant may be stolen from the mail, copied, and altered with respect to the payee and/or the amount of the warrant.

Though not often thought about in the context of forgery, other legal instruments, some involving and others not involving the expenditure of money, may be forged to provide evidence for events that did not actually occur or did not occur when or as required. Examples of these types of forgery include: forged medical or school records might be used to fraudulently substantiate a qualifying child’s residence in claiming the earned income credit; a contractor might forge certificates of origin to comply with the terms of the Buy American Act; or a diploma or transcript might be forged to secure a position for which one is not qualified.

General Guidance

Document alteration - a document that appears to be altered because it shows different print, contains erasures, or a portion thereof has been deleted or changed with the use of correction fluid.

Forger personality traits: a) never appears in person; b) intimidating and pushy; c) threatens to file an unwarrented complaint against the government; or d) complains about the lack of intelligence amoung the entity's employees.

Signatures: a) the signature bears evidence of having been erased or overwritten; b) there are errors in the signatures; or c) signatures contained in instruments already recorded do not match.

Address is either remote or nebulous: a) a resident of no state or b) P.O. box address maintained in a remote location.

Procedure to be followed in connection with the possibility of a forgery:

  • do not proceed with the transaction;
  • do not record any instrument;
  • do not disburse any funds or proceeds;
  • do not pay or satisfy any lien or encumbrance; and
  • do not accuse or charge any of the parties with the commission or the intent to commit a forgery until investigators have completed their work and the case has been referred to law enforcement.