Secret Laser Printer ID Codes

This is not a new issue. A 2004 PC World article described the technology. In February, 2008, I wrote about the EU concerns that these secret printer ID codes may break EU Privacy laws. The EFF has a list of the printers that print these secret codes used by the US government to match a document to the laser printer that produced it.

Another article about this appeared in USA Today a few days ago.

Printer dots raise privacy concerns

The dots, invisible to the naked eye, can be seen using a blue LED light and are used by authorities such as the Secret Service to investigate counterfeit bills made with laser printers…

Privacy advocates worry that the little-known technology could ensnare political dissidents, whistle-blowers or anyone who prints materials that authorities want to track.

The dots are produced only on laser devices and not ink-jet printers, which are most commonly used at home…

As an investigator, this might present an opportunity if the dot pattern is consistent enough to be matched to a particular printer or printer type without being able to decode the dots. If this were the case, then you might not need the ability to decode the dots in some instances. For example, at a company with many different types of laser printers. The process of elimination might indicate which printer(s) could have created a document.

Chinese Spies Steal US Passport Smart Chip

The US authorities demand that everybody entering their country have a passport and identity documents compliant with their security standards, but when it comes to their own passports, they have a much lower security standard than they demand of other countries.

Outsourcing passports ‘profound liability’

The blank passports travel to Europe where a microchip is inserted in the back cover and then onto Thailand where they are fitted with a radio antenna. The Netherlands company that makes the covers for the passport said in October that China stole the technology for the microchips, the Times said.

Outsourced passports netting govt. profits, risking national security

The Government Printing Office’s decision to export the work has proved lucrative, allowing the agency to book more than $100 million in recent profits by charging the State Department more money for blank passports than it actually costs to make them, according to interviews with federal officials and documents obtained by The Times.

Cheque Washing and Pens

Handwritten documents are important to any Investigator or Researcher as they are either creating them, or reading them. Archives throughout the country are full of original handwritten documents of value to researchers.

The age of the ubiquitous ballpoint pen began in the 40’s and this has caused some problems for archivists as so many companies strove to create inexpensive ballpoint pens. The problem has become one of education. The pen may write, but the ink may fade over time, or be vulnerable to water and other solvents. UV light and poor quality paper also do a fine job of obliterating cheap ink from poor quality ballpoint pens. The forgers art of cheque-washing in the following examples illustrate what can happen to documents that encounter solvents.

Read more

Faked-Death & Impersonation-of-the-Dead Fraud

We have all heard of the faked-death scams to defraud insurance companies, escape prosecution, or to start over. The latter always happens in the aftermath of mass-casualty events like train wrecks, fires, and terrorist attacks. But what about the reverse — pretending to be somebody who has died?

This is not uncommon simply because it is so difficult to uncover the truth of someone’s identity and it has been so throughout my thirty years of Canadian experience.

In Canada, registering deaths is a provincial responsibility. The national vital statistics death registration system run by Statistics Canada does not include the deceased’s name or date of birth. There are no public search facilities for determining if the identity that you are presented with is that of a dead person.

In the U.S.A., the Social Security Administration Death Master file includes 98% of deaths of persons who participated in the Social Security program. This is may be searched at several internet sites.

In the UK, Smee & Ford Limited created a database called Mortascreen, which was used to screen direct mail lists for deceased people. This data was augmented and is now used as the foundation for Halo, a database that covers 85% of the deaths occurring annually in the UK. It is updated monthly and includes historical data to make it useful for verifying a person’s identity.

According to the UK’s Fraud Prevention Service, CIFAS, since 2001, impersonation of the dead is Britain’s fastest growing identity theft crime. The latest research suggests the problem has been under-stated by 3.5 times and revised statistics now indicate that 70,000 families experienced the pain of discovering their loved one had been impersonated after their death, to open accounts such as credit cards and loans.

According to the Home Office figures on crime in England and Wales in Jan 2003, “Between April 2000 and March 2001, the passport agency detected 1,484 fraudulent applications of which 301 used the identities of the deceased.”

I suspect that Canada may have a problem with this type of identity theft, but there is no way of knowing the extent of the the problem.