There is such a thing as Notary Abuse: when the notary does not obey the rules of the state where she has been licensed. I have seen notaries from one state notarize a document that was signed by a person who works in another state. There seems to have been a lot of notary abuse during the recession. These involved in many cases homes that were in foreclosure. The foreclosures involved a lot of assignments that were notarized. Whether they were notarized in a fraudulent manner is worthy of investigation. Notaries are required to have bonds to insure the public against notary abuse. The amount of these bonds vary from state to state. If a person feels that there has been notary abuse or fraud, they can file a claim against the bond for their damages. They can also sue the notary. They can file a complaint with the Secretary of State. And finally they can report it to the police.
Each state has rules that the notary must follow. For example here is a section of the California rules:
Secretary of State, Disciplinary Guidelines 2012
VIOLATION OF GOVERNMENT CODE SECTION 8214.1(e):
Adjudged Liable for Damages in Any Suit Grounded in Fraud, Misrepresentation, Violation of State Regulatory Laws or Failure to Discharge Fully and Faithfully the Duties of a Notary Public:
A notary public applicant or commissioned notary public adjudged liable for damages in a case involving fraud, misrepresentation, violation of state regulatory laws or failure to fully and faithfully discharge the duties of the office is in direct conflict with the most fundamental requirements of the office of a notary public. …
(2) If a commissioned notary public is adjudged liable for damages in any suit grounded in fraud, misrepresentation or violation of state regulatory laws or failure to discharge fully and faithfully the duties of a notary public, the recommended action is: Revocation of the commission.
Example 1: A judgment entered against a notary public in a civil action in which the notary public performed a fraudulent notarial act, such as executing an acknowledgment without requiring the signer to appear in person before the notary public.
Example 1 seems to be the violation that is most common in foreclosure proceedings. Of course, there could also be fraud if the document is signed by someone other than the notary licensed under a particular seal.
It therefore appears that a person who is a victim of such fraud could do one or more of the following:
File a complaint with the Secretary of State;
File a lawsuit against the notary;
File a claim against the notary’s bond;
File a complaint with the police.
Proving that a notary committed fraud in fulfilling his/her duties could go a long way in proving that there was a wrongful foreclosure of a property.
If you have any questions about this or any legal issue, please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 for a free consultation.