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In Gmail, you can set up automatic forwarding (useful when you change to using a new email address). E.g. If an email is received by account A, it will be automatically forwarded to Account B.

Firstly, how do you detect if the email in Account B was sent directly or sent from a forward?

Secondly, can this be done in series, e.g. Account A autofowards to Account B, which autofowards to Account C. What headers (if any) show the list of accounts the email has gone through? Or at least shows it was forwarded through more than one email account?

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Short answer

The email messages headers could be modified in each "step" of its route, some servers just add a timestamp to help trace the email but the keyword could vary so reading email headers is complex. There are online tools to help users to read email headers. To find tools like these you could use Google to search for [email headers online tools] or [email headers analyzer].

Extended answer

There is a Gmail Help Article about email headers that suggest a tool and explains how to read email headers: Reading full email headers

Email headers determine where a message is sent, and records the specific path the message follows as it passes through each mail server.

You can easily read message headers by using an online tool such as https://toolbox.googleapps.com/apps/messageheader/ (English-only).

Or, if you'd like to read a message header yourself, follow the path of a message chronologically by reading from the bottom of the header, and working your way up.

To read the explained example provided by Google follow the above link.

To expand your research consider to take a look to related questions in Stack Overflow like the following:

Other references that could be helpful:

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