We sometimes receive inquiries from customers questioning if it’s possible for one participant in a paternity test to switch samples, either with themselves or someone else, or if they could have changed the DNA somehow by eating before collecting DNA. If this happens to you, it is considered paternity fraud, and you may not get the accurate results you are looking for. Here are some sample scenarios.
Paternity Fraud: Mom submits her DNA as the alleged father’s
One question we encountered recently was a concerned possible father who thought maybe the mother of the child could have swabbed herself in his place to force the results to show not excluded, meaning he is considered to be the biological father.
In all paternity testing cases our laboratory also includes the amelogenin gene to verify the sex of all participants. This helps to verify the alleged father being tested is male and the mother is female. We can also verify the sex of the child. This means mom could not swab herself and submit her sample as the alleged father without our laboratory experts discovering that. If this does occur we place the paternity test on hold and contact the participants to ask them to re-swab the correct participants.
Another sign that the mother swabbed in the alleged father’s place would be the mother and father would show as identical DNA, which is not possible. This would also be a red flag and cause the paternity testing to come to a stop. When testing is suspended, participants are contacted and asked for new samples.
Paternity Fraud: Switching samples with someone else
Another question we sometimes get asked is whether the alleged father could have switched his own samples with someone else. If you purchase the home DNA collection kit for paternity testing purposes, the results you receive are not court admissible. This is because the laboratory cannot verify whose samples they have actually received. If the participants do not collect the samples together and mail them off together, there is always a risk that someone could switch their samples with someone else.
If you are in a situation where you doubt the reliability of the other person to be honest about submitting their own sample, we always recommend a legal paternity test collection. To prevent any doubt of someone committing paternity fraud, all participants should go to a third-party collection facility to have their DNA collected by an approved witness. This collector verifies ID and take photos of each participant. The collector then sends the samples to the lab for testing to establish a chain-of-custody to verify samples could not have been tampered with.
Paternity Fraud: Eating or drinking before DNA collection
Another situation is whether someone can alter their DNA by eating or drinking something before they swab their mouth. The answer is no. You cannot alter your DNA by putting anything in your mouth. If you have had a bone marrow transplant recently, that affect results. Anything like that should be discussed with the facility doing the paternity testing.
We do ask that you don’t eat or drink anything for about an hour before collecting the DNA samples, to keep food or anything else off the swabs. Eating or drinking before the collection can cause remnants to get on the swab with the DNA. The worst this will do is create a situation where we can’t get a profile at all. If a profile is obtained, then the food or drink did nothing. If we can’t get a profile, we ask for a recollection at no charge.
Read more about DNA test fraud situations and other paternity test questions.
The Bottom Line
When doing an at-home paternity test for peace-of-mind purposes, we highly recommend that all participants watch each other collect DNA samples, put them in envelopes, and then go together to the post office to drop them off. If that’s not possible or if you suspect that one of the participants may want to commit a fraudulent act, then do the wise thing: Pay a little extra for a legal paternity test and have the whole process supervised by an approved witness. Results are court-admissible too!
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