Broughton is a minority-owned firm that had successfully performed many contracts in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area.

On the bond forms for the Naval museum and visitor's center, the surety broker's identity is not entered in the space provided for it. Asmar declined to identify the broker involved.

The forgery may involve either the power-of-attorney sections or some of the related signature blocks. The bond document, an American Institute of Architects form, has a raised seal and the signature of Chubb attorneys or executives.

In the section of the bond document naming those with the power-of-attorney, two of the names listed were officers of Chubb identified in the company’s 2011 annual report. It isn’t clear if the names were added in order to provide an impression of authenticity or if they are part of the form that is authentic.

Nor is it clear if the bond documents and power-of-attorney forms were created by a skilled forger or taken from those provided to authorized brokers of Chubb surety bonds.

Robert Duke, corporate counsel for the Surety and Fidelity Association of America, an industry group, says it is possible to have fraudulent execution of bonds from a legitimate surety. “You have instances where copies are used over and over or dates and project names are changed,” says Duke. “Or you could have an agent of broker who writes without authority.”

Authorized brokers with power-of-attorney are required to keep bond documents secure.