DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show
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Summary

August 17, 2009: According to Israeli scientists, it is possible to fake evidence for DNA profiling. All that is needed is some DNA from a discarded drinking cup, a cigarette butt, or even a DNA database, and it is possible to create blood or saliva samples which can be spread over a crime scene and spoof most ordinary forensic tests.

The lead scientist making and publishing this discovery has also started a company which sells detection kits allegedly capable of detecting such fake DNA samples.

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Game and Story Use

  • This discovery could overturn a large number of court cases where the defendants can argue that the DNA samples identified as theirs at a crime scene were faked.
    • Similar technological innovations could have similar effects in other settings or time periods where different methods of identifying criminals are used.
  • Notice how the lead scientist created both a problem and provides the solution for the problem - for presumably a significant price? That's a nice scheme for any supervillain - and it might be perfectly legal to boot!
  • Generating (realtively) large quantities of someone's DNA from a sample has been easy ever since PCR replication became widespread, the challenge will be in including it in a convincing forensic sample. Making DNA from a database is like to be a lot harder unless the database is one of those that stores actual samples rather than 'fingerprints'. Of course, on a state level you can always manipulate the database…
    • For a lower tech alternative, collect DNA carriers like used drinking cups, cigarette butts etc. from public places and salt the operational area with them - the number of different DNA traces will be a forensic nightmare … as long as you don't leave a primary trace like a blood smear anywhere.
    • On a similar note, if you ever need to engage in a spot of corpse disposal, feel free to preserve some samples and use them to salt a later operational area: suddenly the enemy are not only missing an agent, but it starts to look like he's gone Patty Hearst on them…
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