December 3-9, 2007
Name: Cina Wong
Job Title: Self-Employed, board-certified document examiner/forensic
Contact Info: 622-9606; PO Box 1293, Norfolk 23501; CinaWongFDE@aol.com
Time on job: 18 years
How did you get started?
“I graduated from *Santa Fe State University with a degree
in communications. I specialized in advertising. Back then,
everything was done by hand. I used to be in charge of paste-up
forgery. This is where someone would cut out your signature
and photocopy it to a document that said you were giving that
employee a raise. In a way, it provided me training as a handwriting
What type of education is involved?
“Actually you can go to school to become a document examiner.
You have to be fortunate enough to find someone who is practicing
as a document examiner to mentor and train you. I started
my training in San Francisco and I moved to Norfolk for advanced
training. I went through a three-year advanced training program.
I also enrolled in various document examination organizations
and after taking required written and oral tests, I became
board-certified. I looked at a number of things when examining
handwriting. At a young age we are taught how to write certain
letters. I looked at how the handwriting deviates from the
copy book letter formation we were taught. If I were to forge
your signature, I would have difficulty making it look like
What types of cases do you handle?
“I’m involved in a number of cases including check fraud,
contract disputes, land deeds, anonymous notes, questionable
documents and wills. In the state of Virginia, individuals
are allowed to write a holographic will, which is a handwritten
will. Not all states allow this. Most states require an attorney
to draw up a will. In Virginia, you can write a will on a
paper towel and it can be considered a valid will. Elderly
abuse cases have a significant amount of fraudulent activities
concerning wills. People who are taking care of them tend
to forge their checks and in some cases, these elderly people
may end up leaving everything to their home health care provider.”
What has been your most high-profile case?
“I was one of two people involved in the JonBenet Ramsey case.
We were called upon to examine the ransom note that was left
at the crime scene. The other handwriting expert was in Maryland.
Both of us were kept separate so our opinions would be independent.
In my opinion, I found that it was highly probable that Patsy
Ramsey [JonBenet’s mother] was the person who wrote the note.
I found over 243 similarities between her handwriting and
the ransom note. The other handwriting expert said that he
was 100 positive that Patsy wrote the note. I want to be clear
on one thing. Just because someone wrote the note does not
mean they committed the murder. The Ramsey’s hired their own
handwriting expert who was favorable to their case. That case
has been left up in the air. It has been one of the biggest
mysteries of the century. This month is the 11th anniversary
of the JonBenet murder.”
What about local forgery jobs?
“One alleged forgery job dealt with an estate. The father
of three sons had passed away. After his death a will surfaced
stating that he had left everything to one son who was an
attorney. I was called in to examine the document to find
out if it was valid. To the naked eye, the signature looks
as though it was signed with blue ink. After I put the document
underneath a microscope, I saw that the ink was composed of
blue, yellow and red dots. The signature was made with an
inkjet printer. I couldn’t say that the letter was authentic.
We can only say that it wasn’t the original signature. When
I stated to the gentleman that the signature wasn’t authentic,
he said that he received a second will in the mail with a
Post-It note saying that this is the real document. I asked
for the envelope that the will came in because when the mail
goes through the post office, the postmark will leave an imprint
on the inside the envelope. Just to be clear, the postmark
doesn’t always show. His document didn’t have a postmark and
he didn’t have the Post-It note. The second will was a traced
forgery document. This is where you trace over someone’s signature
with a tipped object, such as a knitting needle or pen cap
and then fill in the signature later, or you can trace over
the signature with a pen. Unfortunately, a lot of evidence
was not discussed in this case and the son walked away with
the entire estate.”
What’s the worst part of the job?
“When I don’t’ see justice served due to legal technicalities
that have nothing to do with the real issues involved. For
example, I was called in for a real estate alleged fraud case
in Virginia Beach. This man had sold a plot of land to a family
for a moderate price. A few months later the property he sold
had skyrocketed in value and he wanted it back. The family
said no because it was sold to them. He sued the family and
said he never signed the contract and that they forged his
name. I testified in court that the signature was his and
he did indeed sell the land to the family. The judge agreed
that his signature was authentic but according to the Virginia
contract law, the contract had to be clear and precise. On
the document it read that the land was sold for X amount of
dollars. Unfortunately, when someone wrote in the dollar amount
they added three zeros behind the dollar amount. For example,
instead of writing $250,000.00, someone wrote $250,000.000
adding an extra zero. The judge said it wasn’t clear what
the land sold for because of the extra zero. He nullified
the contract and the man got his land back.”
What’s the best part of the job?
“The best part is helping people. I remember helping this
woman whose husband tried to swindle her and her children
out of millions stating that she signed a prenuptial agreement.
She won her case.”
-Interview by Lakeshia Artis
*Correction: Cina Wong did not graduate from Santa Fe University,
she graduated from San Jose State University, San Jose CA.