Archaeoraptor was announced as a "missing link" and "perhaps the best evidence since Archaeopteryx that birds did, in fact, evolve from certain types of carnivorous dinosaurs". It reportedly came from Early Cretaceous beds of China that have produced other spectacular fossils transitional between birds and extinct non-avian dinosaurs. But several lines of evidence revealed Archaeoraptor to be a forgery in which bones of a primitive bird and a non-flying dromaeosaurid dinosaur were combined. Tragically, this case is not unique. Paleontology was badly damaged by the Piltdown forgery, the "lying stones" of Johann Beringer, and other less notorious cases. Moreover, whether unwittingly or maliciously, many other fossils have been subjected to varying levels of deceptive reconstruction. For all these specimens, knowing their histories of human handling can be critical to proper interpretation. Here we demonstrate that high-resolution X-ray computed tomography (CT) is a powerful forensic tool for paleontologists. By imaging the fracture pattern and distribution of materials through the entire volume of the specimen, CT data revealed how the Archaeoraptor forgery was built.