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  • The Secret Service is more than black sunglasses, earpieces, and two-piece suits.

  • They're also an elite team of investigators solving some of the nation's biggest crimes.

  • Sometimes, using nothing more than a blot of ink.

  • Here we are: the lobby of the Secret Service.

  • These were the only authorized shots we could get.

  • Upstairs, in the lab, we got to see all the high-tech machines analysts use in forensic investigations.

  • They have names with things like 8,000 after them so you know they're complicated.

  • Did you film a printer?

  • I did.

  • The lab includes people like Trista, who specializes in handwriting analysis to investigate threat letters or ransom notes.

  • Jeffrey investigates fraudulent items like IDs, traveler's checks, credit cards.

  • And Irina, she works in the International Ink Library.

  • My name is Irina Geiman.

  • I am a document analyst with the United States Secret Service.

  • The Secret Service has the largest ink library in the world.

  • There are over 12,000 inks that are currently in the collection.

  • This includes pens, bottled ink, and printer cartridges.

  • Basically, this team of scientists is using ink to help solve crimes.

  • They're ink-vestigators.

  • Unh-uh, no, don't do that.

  • OK, so here's an example.

  • Someone writes a threatening letter to the President.

  • Irina will sample that ink and then compare it to her collection.

  • Exactly, she can figure out what kind of ink was used, and, hopefully, it helps solve the case.

  • Here's another ink-xample.

  • Nope, gimme that script.

  • The most counterfeited bank note within the United States is $20, and it's printed with inkjet, which means somebody takes their very simple at-home printer and decides to print money.

  • Irina can compare the counterfeit currency to any printers found at the scene of the crime and help make a match.

  • OK, time for a little science.

  • Here's why you need 12,000 samples of, let's be honest, mostly black ink.

  • A lot of the black inks are not just black.

  • They're actually a collection of different color components.

  • There could be blues then reds and yellows, and maybe a little bit of green.

  • Irina can, for lack of a better term, sequence black ink like you would DNA, and find the exact breakdown of color.

  • That's how she can make a match.

  • So what appears black at a first glance is actually extremely different on the inside, and it's really fun, as a chemist, to be able to take the ink apart and see how it's made.

  • I'm a nerd at heart.

  • I love the chemistry of it.

  • I love the mystery of solving a case.

  • I just really love what I do.

  • So it may not look exactly like it's on TV, but it's really fun to be in a lab and to be able to do the analysis and to be able to help and assist all the law enforcement agencies that I work with daily.

  • So, Irina, can you give us any more examples?

  • It's on a need to know basis, and you do not need to know.

  • Well, it looks like this case is all dried up.

The Secret Service is more than black sunglasses, earpieces, and two-piece suits.

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How the Secret Service Uses Ink to Solve Crimes

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    Ginger Liu posted on 2019/09/07
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