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Fraud and misrepresentation in retail forest products exceeds U.S forensic wood science capacity


John Simeone
Amy Smith
Meaghan Parker-Forney
Richard Soares
Akiva Fishman



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Forest Products Laboratory


PLOS ONE. 14(7). 13 p.


Fraud and misrepresentation in forest products supply chains is often associated with illegal logging, but the extent of fraud in the U.S. forest products market, and the availability of forensic expertise to detect it, is unknown. We used forensic wood anatomy to test 183 specimens from 73 consumer products acquired from major U.S. retailers, surveyed U.S. experts regarding their forensic wood anatomy capacity, and conducted a proficiency-testing program of those experts. 62% of tested products (45 of 73) had one or more type of fraudulent or misrepresented claim. Survey respondents reported a total capacity of 830 wood specimens per year, and participants’ identification accuracy ranged from 6% to 92%. Given the extent of fraud and misrepresentation, U.S. wood forensic wood anatomy capacity does not scale with the need for such expertise. We call for increased training in forensic wood anatomy and its broader application in forest products supply chains to eliminate fraud and combat illegal logging.


Wiedenhoeft, Alex C.; Simeone, John; Smith, Amy; Parker-Forney, Meaghan; Soares, Richard; Fishman, Akiva. 2019. Fraud and misrepresentation in retail forest products exceeds U.S. forensic wood science capacity. PLOS ONE. 14(7). 13 p.


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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.