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How to Spot Fake Evidence

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By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

With how simple it has become to manipulate images and documents, one big potential problem for lawyers is learning how to spot fake photographic and documentary evidence.

As technology continues to improve, fake pictures and documents are getting harder and harder to distinguish from real ones, and while no lawyer would knowingly present false evidence, if a client brings you a fake photo or a forged document and you get duped by it, the end result could be catastrophic. Fortunately, there are a few things that lawyers can do to ensure that photos and docs they plan to use are legitimate.

Close Up Inspection

The first thing any lawyer should do when presented with photographic evidence, particularly these days, is ask for the highest resolution version of the original digital file. Then, upon receipt, that image should be magnified to the largest possible size without being distorted for a close up inspection. The same goes for documents, get the original digital file, if possible, then examine every element of it at its original size.

Generally, you're looking to see if there are any inconsistencies, such as blurred lines or edges, or if there's something that doesn’t belong in the image. Often, even professionally photoshopped images will show some signs of being tampered with.

Inspecting Metadata

If digital files are available, inspecting the metadata can reveal quite a bit if you know what you're looking for (or can hire someone who does). The metadata for an image or document can tell you when and how it was created, or edited. Also, there are several online resources that may be able to help you figure out whether the extra expense for a forensic expert is worth it.

Sometimes a simple Google search will solve all your problems, and fortunately, when it comes to images, you can do a reverse image search. A reverse image search allows you to upload an image and search for whether that image already exists on the internet and where it came from.

A picture may still be worth 1,000 words, just make sure those words are the truth -- or as close to it as we can come these days.  

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