Thursday, September 4, 2014

Handwritten Signatures - Now a “Punch Line” – Part 3

A new example of a fake court document highlights the failure of current "visual" document validation methods.


Recently, another example of a fraudulent court “paper” document came to my attention that adds evidence to two earlier articles on the subject available here and here.

In an article posted on the website on September 3, 2014, author Matt Haughey wrote about the background involving a negative Internet discussion site regarding the “Sundance Vacations” timeshare business.   And, about receiving a fake court document from the Chancery Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi.  He writes:
"This past Sunday, I was contacted again by Sundance Vacations, again about a court order obtained against someone running a “Boycott Sundance Vacations” Facebook group, asking me to remove that same old Ask MetaFilter thread which was now listed in court documents."
The author continues:
“Today (Tuesday) I called a clerk in the Hinds County Chancery Court office. They asked me to fax them a copy of the court order so they could verify the document. I did as requested and a few hours later got a call back from the office saying it was not a real document from their court. The case numbers on the first page are from an unrelated case that took place last year. The clerk said they found a case from August 21, 2014 that used similar language but had different plaintiffs and defendants, but the same lawyers on page 3. In their opinion, it seemed someone grabbed a PDF from a different case and copy/pasted new details to it before sending it on to me.”
As you can see in this accompanying graphic of the court document order header (above), it “looks” official.  But thanks to the good work of the author and the office of the Clerk of the Chancery Court it was found to be false.

The lesson here again is that visual manifestations of authenticity are not adequate.  The header, file stamp, and initials are all meant to provide verification but in this day and age, it simply does not work.  Smuggy blue blobs that are supposed to represent court seals literally mean nothing.

We provided some solution ideas in the earlier articles listed above, and again in our Court Case Management Systems series.

We urge our court friends to think about this real problem; and consider solutions in your future plans.

1 comment:

  1. Great post (as usual) Jim. As with many things: technology created the problem, and also offers a solution - with a paradigm shift.

    One option is in technology we developed called TrueCertify that allows the court to deliver a verified copy of a document electronically. Very useful when the stakes are high, such as with vital records.