Forgery is a crime in which someone falsifies something with the intent to deceive. There are a number of different kinds of forgery, ranging from counterfeiting to art forgery, but they are all treated as crimes under the law. In some instances, forgery is severely punished, especially in the case of counterfeiting.
This crime has a very long history, although it really began to flourish in the 20th century, when numerous opportunities for forging arose. However, both Ancient Greeks and Romans would sign their art with names other than their own in the hopes of capitalizing on a big name, and counterfeiters have been faking coins and paper money ever since currency was introduced. Some incidences of ancient forgery were so well done that they are displayed in museums today, and in a few instances, works of art haven't been revealed as forgeries for decades or even centuries after their acquisition by museums and galleries, much to the embarrassment of the staff.
In art forgery, someone makes a piece of art which is meant to mimic the style of a famous artist, and then signs the piece with the name of the artist. Dead artists are common victims of forgery, since they are not alive to testify about the provenance of a work. Some art forgers are extremely clever, utilizing a variety of techniques to make it difficult to identify a fake. Art historians, in turn, use a number of techniques to examine art in the hopes of weeding forgeries from real works of art.
Document forging is also a lucrative endeavor in many parts of the world. Forgers can generate identifications, certificates of title to property, and other documents for a variety of uses. In some instances, forged documents are used for benign purposes, like entering an establishment with age restrictions; in other cases, the intent may be more sinister, like identity theft. Official documents tend to have a number of anti-forging precautions such as special inks and papers to make forgery more challenging.
Forgery is also a large issue in the financial world. When forgers actually make currency, this is known as counterfeiting. But they can also sign false checks and other financial documents, causing a great deal of chaos, even if the crime is uncovered.
The examination of suspicious documents and other materials which may be forgeries is known as questionable document examination. People who study this particular branch of the forensic arts may choose to specialize in a particular type of forgery; specialists can focus on things like medieval paintings, currency, or title deeds, using a variety of equipment, skills, and techniques to uncover forgeries.