Secret Service Can Spot Ink 'fingerprints'

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 (UPI) — The ink on a letter can reveal much about the document’s creator, even if that person is determined to stay hidden, U.S. government researchers say.

The Secret Service keeps a library of 10,000 inks with information on their composition, brands and when they were manufactured for law enforcements agencies investigating suspicious documents — a process now made even quicker by a new Digital Ink Library, a Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate release said Wednesday.


Rather than spend hours leafing through hard copy pages of the library’s analyzed samples, investigators can use a searchable database to quickly identify likely matches, even if the ink in question is from a common black or blue ballpoint pen.

To analyze an ink sample, forensic scientists separate its components using solvents to separate the ink into bands of color on a page. Every ink creates its own color bands, forming a “fingerprint” that goes into the library.

In the digital version of the ink library, software automatically identifies the known samples closest to the suspect ink, saving investigators time, the Secret Service says.

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