As forgers of ID documents leave necessary remnants or traces of their craft and materials they use, it seems appropriate to develop a strategy to extract relevant information not only about their modus operandi, but also about their connections, organisation and criminal structure. Nowadays, forensic document profiling embraces this very potential, using essentially visual and physical examinations of documents. This practice, though efficient, could be enhanced by a chemical approach that may provide complementary information.
The information found via forensic profiling provides knowledge about the techniques used to replicate security features, which features are easier or harder to replicate, and what to focus on when authenticating IDs. It also allows to detect links between different investigations, discern distribution routes, and monitor changes and trends.
Plastics are ever more used in identity document manufacturing and are readily available. The composition of polymers is very variable due to the additives that are used to modify plastic properties, and distinct manufacturers use diverse additives in different proportions. Hence, it is likely that the analysis of counterfeit IDs from two forgers who buy their blank plastic cards from different sources will yield different chemical profiles. For these reasons, the polymeric matrix seems to be a relevant target to study.
Previous work demonstrated that profiling false identity documents using visual features can yield relevant crime intelligence and support investigations. With the increasing use of plastics in identity and travel documents, chemical profiling appears to be an interesting tool to enhance the existing visual profiling method. Chemical profiling has the advantage of not being limited to comparing documents of the very same kind. It could be used to compare a wide range of documents, such as passports and health insurance cards, as well as plastic currencies and credit cards, eventually highlighting the activity of criminal networks connected to human trafficking, terrorism, or any other criminal activities.