Biological Identity Theft


We live in a time where fake DNA has a place in the market! Nucleix, a company specializing in forensic DNA analysis, has uncovered the possibility of falsified DNA evidence at crime scenes. Based on a given sample or generated anew, DNA can be inserted into blood and saliva samples to create biological identity theft. The full paper in which the discovery was revealed, published by Forensic Science International: Genetics, can be read here.

Dr. Frumkin, lead author of the paper, states that a crime scene could be so easily engineered that “any biology undergraduate” could perform the steps necessary.

The modification cannot be detected by a standard forensics lab, which prompted Nucleix to design a test to distinguish between DNA shed from a person or DNA that has been replicated from a sample or generated from an individual’s genome sequence. This test will help support Nucleix’s belief that DNA authentication should become a standard part of forensic procedures.

As noted by Medical News Today, the use of DNA fingerprinting as evidence in “criminal proceedings relies on the assumption that the DNA sample is genuine.” This news in the forensics world creates ambiguity in what used to be considered extremely reliable evidence, as well as a dependence on DNA authentication technology.

Technology Review also believes that this may be a concern for individuals who choose to make their DNA public as they could be incriminated at a crime scene.

Nina Moog is a writer and director of photography based in Germany. She holds an MA from the University of St. Andrews and an MSc from the University of Oxford, where her thesis focused on photographic representations of prisons. More from this author →