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January 29, 2019

Can a Notary go to jail for Notary fraud?

Filed under: Technical & Legal — Tags: — admin @ 2:52 am

Can a Notary go to jail for Notary fraud?
Can a Notary go to prison for Notary fraud?

Notaries very rarely end up in jail. There are many illegal things that Notaries to almost daily. However, the law seems to rarely catch up with them unless a crime is committed where there are damages. Additionally, if the crime was committed with intent to steal, embezzle, or harm someone, the Notary would be in a lot worse trouble.

Notaries typically do not administer Oaths for Jurats. Those that do, typically administer an Oath in my opinion incorrectly. I test Notaries regularly and this is how I know. It is illegal to sign a Jurat that makes you claim that you supervised an Oath when in fact you did not. That might be considered perjury, although I am not an Attorney and cannot say with any certainty. However, Notaries very rarely get in trouble for omissions in their duty.

The only time I have heard of a Notary going to jail was one who assisted in fraud involving real property. The Notary falsified paperwork, probably Deeds of some sort and helped someone steal someone else’s property. That Notary got put away for a long time.

However, Notaries end up in court regularly for things that signers did fraudulently. Some signers alter documents after they were notarized. Other signers committed identity fraud. Once in a while, someone will forge a notary seal and pretend to be a particular Notary. It is common those these acts of fraud to result in a Notary being supoenaed to court or at least being investiated.

So, unless a Notary does something intentionally to cause financial harm to another person, it is unlikely that they will end up in jail — but, then.. who knows…


September 14, 2018

Compilation of Posts about Notary Fraud

Filed under: Compilations — Tags: , — admin @ 7:04 am

Here are some posts about Notary Fraud

13 ways to get sued as a Notary

10 risks to being a Mobile Notary Public

2011 – Penalties for misdeeds and misconduct (most popular of all)

2018 – Penalties for Notary misconduct, fraud and failure of duty

2012 – Fraud and forgery in the notary profession

Notary loses $4000 because fraud adds name to the notary certificate

An identity fraud case in Florida with 13 defendents

It could cost $20,000 in legal fees if you are named as an identity theft conspirator

Notary fraud discussed in the 30 point course

We caught a bunch of frauds using notary verbiage

The FBI is at your door and names you as a suspect!

Two and a half Notaries: Detering Notary fraud


December 12, 2014

Two and a half notaries: Detering notary fraud

CHARLIE: You know something Jake, notary fraud is a huge problem affecting the quality of life in America

JAKE: Whoa, you make it sound so serious, like the world is going to come to an end.

ALAN: You know Jake, notary fraud is something you should take seriously. I have stories about it that would shock you.

JAKE: Like, okay… I don’t even know what a notary is…

CHARLIE: Remember Shelley? She was a notary!


ALAN: A notary public is a very sacred and meaningful profession. They are people of integrity who make sure that a document was signed by the person who was supposed to sign the document.

JAKE: Oh, I get it. So, if Valerie wanted to get permission from her doctor to cut class because she was sick, and she forged her doctor’s signature, a notary wouldn’t let her get notarized with the forged signature.

CHARLIE: You hit the nail on the head. Is this kid taking smart pills all of a sudden. He’s never been so lucid as long as I’ve known him.

ALAN: I have no idea. This is a first for me too.

JAKE: Well, maybe I’ve thought about the concept of notarization in depth over the years, even though I didn’t know exactly what a notary was. After all, if Valerie is going to cut school to hang out with me at the mall all day long, I need to have a fool-proof strategy.

CHARLIE: I’m beginning to see where the motivation for Jake’s new-found high aptitude is coming from.

JAKE: Which brings me to my next thought which is, how do you fake a notary seal on a letter from a doctor to give you permission to fake school?

ALAN: Now, that is just wrong!

CHARLIE: Remember that fishing trip we were going to go on. And you could only take time off work on a Thursday?

ALAN: Well, yeah.

CHARLIE: And remember, how the only way that all three of us could all go together was if Jake could also take time off school on Thursday without getting into trouble?

ALAN: So, where are you going with this?

CHARLIE: Don’t you see? If we can get a fake notary to notarize a doctor’s signature, Jake can take the day off, and we can go to Lopez Lake up in Santa Barbara County!

ALAN: I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this.

JAKE: Count me in!

CHARLIE: Monica said she would meet up with us there.

ALAN: Say no more!

CHARLIE: All we need to do is to take a refresher course on the difference between a genuine and a fraudulent notary seal’s impression.

JAKE: What’s genuine?

ALAN: Oh, thank God he’s back to his old self again!

CHARLIE: Now, look at all of these notary seals. Can you tell which ones are authentic?

JAKE: Hmmm. I’ve never done this before, but, I’ve done something similar… (muttering under his breath) on the beach yesterday.

(looking at the notary seal impressions in a book)

CHARLIE: How about this one?

JAKE: Real… Fake… Fake… Real… Those are so fake… Wow, look at the size of those! I didn’t know it was possible for a notary seal to be so big. What about these ones?

CHARLIE: I can’t tell if these ones are real or fake, but all I have to say is, they should be illegal!

ALAN: What about this one. It looks so smudgy.

CHARLIE: That one’s real. It’s just that the notary who used it didn’t know what he was doing.

ALAN: There’s nothing worse than a notary who doesn’t know how to handle his seal.

JAKE: Can a notary seals be round?

CHARLIE: I’m glad you asked. A notary embosser, is round, and leaves a raised impression.

JAKE: You mean like it’s three dimensional?

CHARLIE: That’s exactly what I mean.

JAKE: Cool.

CHARLIE: I knew you’d like it. Check this out. This is an embosser!

ALAN: Where did you get that?

CHARLIE: Never mind where, or how. This is our ticket to fishing on the lake!

Scene 2. County jail

JAKE: I guess our plan didn’t work too well.

CHARLIE: Tell me about it. They might let me out for good behavior if Sylvester will take his arm off of me: (To Sylvester:) And NO, I am not your girlfriend — get the thought out of your head.

ALAN: Well, we might as well go to the lake, just Jake and I. There is nothing else to do. We’ll bring back some pictures for you to see when we’re back.

CHARLIE: (muttering with his hand over his face) That’s exactly what I need.

JAKE: I have an idea. Maybe if we get a notarized letter, we can get you out of here.

CHARLIE: I don’t think that is a very good idea, especially not at this point. And besides, my embosser is not part of exhibit A

BERTA: I can get you out of here. I’ll just sweet talk the guards.

CHARLIE: Never mind the guards, I’m more worried about the judge

SYLVESTER: Are you worried about me? I’ll miss you so much once they let you out.

CHARLIE: Oh my God.

BERTA: Good news, they’re letting you out!

ALAN: They are? They are!!!

CHARLIE: Why? What did I do. What changed?

JAKE: The principal of my school just called and dropped the charges. Since no malicious harm was meant, they decided to just let you out on a warning. But, they warn that impersonating a notary seal, or a notary is a Felony and can result in jail time.

CHARLIE: Oh boy, no more house in Malibu. I guess I got lucky this time.

SYLVESTER: But, I sure didn’t. Will you think of me when you’re back in your cushy house on the beach?

CHARLIE: You can bet I will. (shaking his head and rolling his eyes)


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April 23, 2012

Sending loose certificates is illegal

Sending loose certificates is illegal! 

People who work at Title companies are notorious for breaking the law in so many ways.  Here are some common types of fraud that happen at Title companies daily:
(1) Many will deliberately and shamelessly forge initials when the borrower forgets to initial.  I’m not sure how bad of a crime this is, but I recommend against any type of forgery — no matter what! 
(2) Most will unstaple documents that have been stapled which makes the completed certificate which is attached (a legal requirement), no longer attached (illegal) and hence a loose certificate (gulp). I have had multiple Title companies complain to me that they didn’t like the industrial staples I used since they were so hard to unstaple.  They don’t have a legal right to unstaple those notarized documents because the certificate must stay attached.  Part of the problem with unattaching certificates, is that they could get reattached to some OTHER document creating confusion, havoc, and hence having a document notarized without having it presented to a notary public and going through the procedure and journal entry.
(3) Many will ask a notary to send them a loose certificate if a document needs to be notarized again for some reason. Sometimes the seal was smudgy, or perhaps they needed to replace the document and get a new certificate for the new document with a new date.  If you are a “loose notary” who has a loose interpretation of notary law in your state, you might be breaking the law!
It all starts out with a pad of loose certificates!
You start out with our pad of loose acknowledgment certificates and jurat certificates.  Any serious notary will have this type of pad on hand as if their life depends on it.  Sure, the certificates are loose now, but that is okay, since they haven’t been filled out or stamped yet!  When you notarize a signature(s) on a document(s), you have the signer(s) signer the instrument, and then you have them sign your official journal of notarial acts.  Then, you fill out the certificate wording embedded in the document, or if that boiler plate wording isn’t there, you can add a certificate form which has the identical, or hopefully very similar boiler plate wording.  You fill out the form, cross you s’s, and dot your t’s, etc.  The minute you sign the certificate, and affix your official notary seal, then you may NOT let that certificate out of your site until it is ATTACHED to the corresponding document. It is illegal to unattach a certificate from a document, and very unkosher to unattach the staple for a notarized multipage document. What are your intentions?  Are you going to swap pages after the fact?  I can smell fraud a mile away!
What should you the notary do when asked to send a loose certificate?
It’s easy.  Someone at a Title company says they need a new Jurat certificate for the Affidavit of Domicile you notarized for them a week ago otherwise their loan won’t go through (pressure technique).  They want you to mail the loose certificate to them!  Tell them:
“No problem, just send me the document and the original certificate — I’ll shred the old certificate and add a new one… You can not have two certificates for the same document. The signer already signed the journal for this particular transaction and doesn’t need to sign it again for a certificate which is to be dated the same date they signed the journal.”
And they will say:

“Oh, come on, why does this have to be so difficult. That takes extra time and money.  Why can’t you just (break the law) and send us what we want (and risk your commission and risk being sent to jail or being fined perhaps more than $1000) for our convenience?”
And then you should say:

“If you need notaries to routinely break the law for your pleasure, you should ask your notaries some prescreening questions.  Ask them if they are willing to break the law on a whim (your whim) and risk their commission and perhaps some jail time for your convenience. Ask them if they mind risking going to jail to save you from having to wait an additional 24 hours for a loose certificate… if they say ‘sure’, then they are the notary for you!”
My concluding advice
Don’t break the law for these rascals. They are not worth it.  You probably won’t get in trouble, but as a notary public, your position in society is to preserve integrity, and to safeguard transactions by making sure that the signer really signed the corresponding document in question.  If certificates get switched on documents due to fraud, or because you didn’t identify the document carefully enough on the certificate, then you are a liability to society and shoudn’t be a notary public. 
As a notary, you should be very sensitive to the fact that if you are notarizing multiple documents for a particular signer, those documents could get mixed up, and the signer could pull a fast one and reattach notary certificates from a document you really did notarize, to another similarly named document that you did not notarize. 
Multipage documents can be taken apart and pages switched.  Title companies ROUTINELY take apart documents as a matter of standard procedure, and if you don’t emboss every page of everything you notarize, it would be easy for someone to replace page 5 with another similar looking page 5.  Assume that people are dishonest and shady, so that you can protect the virtue and integrity of your work. Document everything to a tee, and don’t give in to pressure to do illegal notary acts even if it means losing a client. You don’t want that client anyway in the long run — trust me!

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February 6, 2012

Fraud & Forgery related to the notary profession

Fraud and Forgery in the notary business 

There are many types of fraud that a notary might run into in their notarial career, forgery being one of the more common types of fraud. But, let’s take a closer look at what specific types of things could happen.
(1) Someone could forge your seal and pretend to be you.  It happened to me.  Unfortunately for them, they didn’t forge my signature very well, and didn’t copy my style of embossing every page either.  Putting technicalities aside, I bet they were not able to forge my quirky sense of humor.  Notary seal forgery is not common. In my case, I think they used a really good photocopier.  BTW, a photocopier can NOT copy the RAISED impression of an inkless embosser which is why I used it.
(2) Page swapping — the old bait and switch routine.  I got called to notarize many multi-page documents. I put my embossing seal through all of the pages leaving a raised impression on each page.  I usually did these individually. Sometimes it is better to do all pages together so the seal goes through the same location in each page.  However, the seal comes out more clearly if you go page by page.  In any case, if you see a ten page document where all of the pages EXCEPT for page four are embossed, that would raise my eyebrows.  I have had many situations, where the signer wants me to give them another acknowledgment certificate for a new page they are adding to the document. I tell them that I have to notarize their signature ALL OVER AGAIN, and that is the law no matter how many times you say, “Oh, come on”.  With that attitude you might as well notarize your own signature as a non-notary!
(3) Title companies have a common practice of initialing for the borrower if they miss an initial. It is “easier” than sending the documents back to the borrower.  Whether it is signature forgery to forge initials is a matter for an attorney to decide, but it seems pretty illegal to me to engage in initial forgery. I don’t think that anyone audits loan documents to see if anyone is engaging in initial forgery, but perhaps they should — many Title companies might get busted or investigated at a minimum.
(4) Refusal to be thumbprinted?  You must be up to something if you don’t want your thumbprint recorded. Maybe you have a fake identification card, right?  You can fake an ID, but you can not fake a thumbprint.
(5) Signature forgery.  If someone forged a signature on a document, they will have to have a fake ID and forge the same signature on the ID and in your journal. It would be a tough crime to pull off. I think that nobody in their right mind would attempt this.  Normally, people try to do crimes of fraud in private, and wouldn’t be willing to let other parties see what they are doing, no matter what!
(6) Notarizing out of state?  If you don’t have a commission in a particular state, you can not notarize there, with a few exceptions. Military notaries have special rules. A Virginia notary public may notarize out of the state of Virginia, but only for documents that are to be recorded within the state of Virginia. In any case, from time to time we will hear rumors that a notary public is operating illegally in a bordering state where they are not commissioned, and people want us to enforce the rule. I tell them to report the individual to the state notary division that is applicable.
(7) Charging more than the state maximum notary fees is illegal, and charging more travel fee than your state allows (roughly eight states have restrictions for travel fees) can get you in trouble too.
(8) Filling out an Acknowledgment or Jurat form when you never saw the signer and never had the signer sign your journal is a really serious act of notarial misconduct.  You can lose your commission and get fined or jailed for this.

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