How to Forge a Signature

IMAG0476Don’t get too excited. I’m not posting this to help you get out of showing your mom your report card or anything like that. This, and other articles to follow, are aimed at teaching myself, and you guys by proxy, how to take a more hands-on approach to the things we write about. The old adage “write what you know” is a solid one because you write more convincingly when you know what you’re about—and if you don’t know something, take that step and learn it.

Forging a signature is all about confidence, so says Neal Caffrey from USA Network’s White Collar, and like every piece of advice that comes from him, it’s very true. The first time you do anything it’s going to be a little rough, so you and your character both need to have several practice rounds, and if you’re writing a professional conman like Neal, that might mean years of practice rounds.

The first step to forging a signature is to get your hands on a copy of an original. Just a glance isn’t going to do you much good unless you have a photographic memory, and even then it’s better to have an original in front of you. Signatures are like fingerprints; there are lots of little details and lots of opportunities to mess up.

  • Turn the copy upside down

This is Neal’s approach. Flip the original upside down and then it just becomes a matter of tracing the lines on the desired document. Remember that confidence is a must, so follow through on those loops and squiggles as if you were just tracing.

  • Use tracing paper

Lay a piece of tracing paper over the original and copy with a pencil. Then move the tracing paper over to the document and press hard enough to leave an outline as you trace the signature on the tracing paper again. Trace the document’s outline with pen.

  • Freehand

This method involves studying the original and then free-handing the forged signature thereafter. This one isn’t easy, and in fact probably involves the most risk, but when it works, it works. Remember it’s all in the details; each legit signature is different, but each one has a tell-tale stroke that identifies it.

  • Go for the initials

In some situations, you can, in essence, create a new signature in that you use just the person’s initials. This gives you a bit more freedom because it is fewer letters and it is still a written signature, but it does still require an original and knowing the person’s middle name.


Now, on the flipside of the options you have for forging the signature, there are the dead give-aways that indicate a fake. Things like a shaky hand, that hesitant looping curve, perfecting shaped letter or perfectly duplicated signatures are all going to give you trouble. If you lined up all of your signatures from the past month, how many would line up perfectly, and how many would give some indication of your own personal re-touching? Be careful of frazzled or broken lines, don’t try to erase what you’ve written and if you can check your work under a magnifying glass. Be careful of leaving to many indents on a piece of paper that can be seen if you hold the paper up to a light. And when in doubt, remember this helpful tip from eHow:

Tips and Warning

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