Skip to main content
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Find a Lawyer

More Options

Modern Forgery 101: The Tell-Tale Signs of 'Fontgate'

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 14, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

"Watergate" for political scandal. "Deflategate" for NFL cheaters. "Fontgate" for forgers?

It works because "Fontgate" is about forgers using Microsoft's Calibri font to fake documents. In any case, the forged font story is a remake of scandals that actually date back to the original cover-up.

Fontgate really began in 1973, the same year Richard Nixon began the Watergate cover-up. But both gates reverberate in law and politics today.

Calibri to Conspiracy

The "Killian documents," which suggested President George W. Bush disobeyed orders during his time in the Air National Guard, were purportedly created on a typewriter in 1973. But an investigation concluded the documents were probably created on a word processor.

The revelations led to a spectacular fail on television because 60 Minutes Wednesday erroneously reported the documents were authentic. CBS cancelled the show in 2005, and reporter Dan Rather retired that same year.

It wasn't the last time forgers would use word processing to fake documents. In 2012, the Turkish government accused more than 300 people of a coup conspiracy based on documents that were made with wrong-dated fonts. Then came the biggest Calibri controversy.

Fontgate and the Panama Papers

The Panama Papers -- a collection of documents leaked from off-shore law firm Mossack Fonseca in 2014 -- showed that the Pakistani prime minister had a much greater fortune than his family had earned. In a court inquiry, he produced records from 2006 to document his wealth.

The problem? They were made using Microsoft's Calibri font, which was not commercially available on computers until a year later.

Ultimately, "Fontgate" may take down the prime minister. Ars Technica, reporting on the history of font forgeries, said the scandals reveal an important clue for detecting forgeries.

"Absent other cues, the use of Calibri is, therefore, an instant indicator that a document was produced some time after the release of Office 2007," Peter Bright wrote.

Related Resources:

FindLaw has an affiliate relationship with Indeed, earning a small amount of money each time someone uses Indeed's services via FindLaw. FindLaw receives no compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:
Copied to clipboard