Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Your Village Called: You're no Rhodes Scholar

When I was in high school I had a folder in the guidance counselor's office full of notes my "mom" had written. These notes excused me from school completely, explained my tardiness, and allowed me open access at lunch to go to home for lunch with my cousins. I wasn't an ill child so getting a jump on the forgeries was easy. If you want the school to think it's your mother's handwriting, the key is to never let them see her handwriting. Study the signature awhile. Don't just make up a random signature, you need it to come close.

Everything was cool. Life was grand. I was free from the bonds that restrict the typical high school student. Then one day my world fell apart. Study hall in our high school was held in the library. The library was directly across the hall from the principal's office and the guidance counselor's office. As I stared aimlessly through the doors of the library I saw someone familiar, yet out of place. There she was in the hallway, my mother, wearing that tight lipped look only parents get, and she was headed into the guidance counselor's office.

"What the hell? Why is she here? This is not good. Not good at all." I thought. I was right. I am still unsure exactly what I had done to draw attention to myself. Perhaps too many absences? Either way, the jig was up, the noose was out, they'd finally... anyway, you get what I'm saying. BUSTED!

Time has changed a lot of things. Now if my kids are AWOL I get a call on my cell phone from the school's automated system notifying me. The teachers and administrators have my work email to let me know if there is anything that should be brought to my attention. I have a login for a parent portal that allows me to see their grades, attendance, missing assignments, and lunch balance. There isn't much a kid can do to forge or falsify their way out of things.

I believe these advances in technology have bred a sloppy generation of document doctors. A couple of years ago I received an email from my ex boyfriend that was supposed to contain a doctor's note for one of his employees. The employee had pasted together bits and pieces of information from various sources and compiled them into one long letter from the "doctor" explaining why the employee could not perform duties as assigned. As I scrolled through the document, I noticed several paragraphs where the color changed on the font, the font size changed, and in 2 cases the font was completely different. Sloppy indeed.

My friends who work in HR could tell you stories I'm sure. In order to help our new generation of forgery artists and document falsifiers, I would like to provide a few tips that they might (do) overlook.

See how grainy I am when printed? Sad
isn't it. You stole the wrong logo. 
1. Loco for Logos 
Look at you. You're so smart. You're going to make letterhead. Go you! You went to the website and right clicked the logo of the company you're making your fake letterhead for. You've pasted that logo onto your Word doc. How awesome does that look?! Now do me a favor... hover over that logo. Does that logo take you right back to the page you stole it from. You might want to lose the hyperlink. Do you know what people do with official letters? They print them. Try to steal a better quality logo next time mmmkay?

I'm not a doctor, but I play one on fake
2. Know your place. 
Are you a lawyer? Are you a doctor? Are you at all educated in the field of the person you're claiming to be? If you're not, you may want to avoid using terminology associated with that field. Don't use words you don't understand. Don't try to be something you're not... oh sorry you already were. Carry on then. Oh hey? Don't put quotes around words. You look like a "douche" who is "stupid" and doesn't know "what the hell" they are "talking" about.

This is a picture of an invisible man.
He's invisible because he doesn't exist. 
3. And God created man. 
You, my friend, cannot create a person. You don't have the magic person creator dust and you don't know the right spells. Doctors and lawyers are bound by certain confidentiality laws. Companies are restricted as to the information they can provide about you if anyone calls to verify your information. Nevertheless, people DO call. You know that right? You'd better be damned sure the person you're pretending to be is REAL and actually works for the company you're making your shitty hyper-linked, low res logo having, poorly formatted letterhead for.

Oh look at that. You can see who, what
when, where... just not why. 
4. Your Word gives you away. 
I'm not talking about point 2. No, my poor pitiful excuse for technology users, I'm talking about Microsoft Word. Did you know, and obviously some people do not, that if you so much as hover over a Word document icon it will tell you the author, title, size, and date it was last modified? Oh and guess what else! If you right click that file and look at the properties you can tell when it was created, how many times it's been revised, and whose installation of Office it was created with. Cool, huh? You know there are ways to fix this. I am not going to tell you how. I'm not THAT helpful.

I hope that this tutorial has helped you realize that making a good quality falsified document is harder than it looks. At the very least it's a hell of a lot more work than most of you put into it.

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