By William Hudson
It is well known that the banks use false notarizations on foreclosure documents, affidavits, and assignments to create the illusion of ownership. The most typical variety of this problem occurs when a notary certifies that the person whose signature appears on a document really did sign it, even though the notary didn’t witness the signing.
Apparently, it isn’t enough that the loan servicers and their counsel digitally alter mortgage notes and assignments in order to create the appearance of standing, the banks are cultivating relationships with notaries to do their dirty work. There is a pattern emerging of notaries resorting to leaving spaces and boxes open on Affidavit jurats. It is likely that this is being done so that information can be inserted at a later time by the “lender” after the notarization of the document. It is illegal for a notary to notarize an affidavit and jurat that has blank spaces or boxes. Usually an affidavit will contain an “n/a” when a form has a blank space to indicate “not applicable.” A notary is also not allowed to notarize a jurat when the person does not show proper identification. According to most state laws a notarized document containing blank spaces is a void document.
Arizona private investor Kenneth McLeod of McLeod Investigations in Chandler, Arizona informed Livinglies that a year ago he complained to the Arizona Secretary of State Michelle Reagan about a notary that wouldn’t disclose her notary log as required, didn’t reply to a notary demand, failed to keep a current address and other violations. It may have taken the Secretary of State a year to look into his complaint, but she did respond, and discovered that when the notary signed and sealed the affidavit in question, she left boxes blank which made the notarization void. An affidavit is considered a true jurat (a document signed under oath) and therefore cannot contain ANY blank spaces. In this particular case, the notary was not prosecuted but received a six month suspension. The Secretary of State should be looking into other documents this notary signed as well as investigating if any homes were foreclosed on using documents that this unethical notary signed off on.
While the false notarization of documents is a criminal act in most states, very few notaries are charged or prosecuted. Typically a notary will invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in a foreclosure case if caught in the act and then maybe receive a brief suspension of their notary authorization instead of being prosecuted. Six months later the corrupt notary will be back notarizing documents.
McLeod noted that the Secretary of State and Arizona Attorney General looked deeper into the notary document to discover that the signer also failed to submit proof of proper identification. The Secretary didn’t draw further conclusions, but it would be fair to assume that the notary was swearing to land record documents that may not have been presented to her by the actual person whose signature she notarized. As we know in many foreclosure cases, notaries have been engaging in a practice of notarizing documents without the signer appearing in front of them, and allowing another person to sign legal documents for a person not present. Notary fraud is a big problem in foreclosure cases.
McLeod commented that documents that are signed UNDER OATH and then notarized later are another way to attack the foreclosure mills at their own game of forging documents and filing false documents. The foreclosure mill employees don’t tend to have a high-level of dedication to detail. Homeowners facing foreclosure should examine their own documents and look for blank spaces, signing issues or other notary inconsistencies. McLeod brought up the fact that a void jurat attached to a debt collection notice may also be in violation of the FDCPA.
There have been cases where it was found that an attorney did not sign the documents as certified and the judge dismissed the foreclosure. However, what happens when documents that are falsely notarized result in an illegal foreclosure? Should the sale be rescinded or the foreclosure allowed to stand? Should the notary be prosecuted for fraud?
There are cases being litigated where wrongful foreclosures resulted due to fraudulent notarizations. Homeowners who purchase foreclosed properties may be vulnerable if they purchased a home where a foreclosure mill engaged in notary fraud on the documents, and later if the previous homeowner discovers these errors and files suit. If the signer didn’t appear or sign the documents used to foreclose in front of the notary- the documents are VOID. Notaries have been implicated in attesting under oath that certain events occurred in order to legitimize improperly transferred notes and flawed mortgage documents. The notaries continue to violate the law because they know they will not be prosecuted for their wrong doing. Perhaps it is time to start suing the notaries that are knowingly notarizing false documents and failing to honor their oath.
Until criminal charges are filed against notaries, attorneys, banks and servicers, fraud will continue to taint the entire system. How many people have lost their home because of notary fraud that runs rampant in foreclosure mills? Don’t assume because a notary seal or signature looks authentic that it is. Request the notary’s log books for specific days and make sure that the person who claims to have signed your foreclosure documents is listed in the notary log book on that date.
Pull court dockets and investigate if the attorney whose signature was notarized could have appeared in front of the notary on the day they claimed to. There was an instance in Florida where a Notice of Default was notarized while the foreclosure mill attorney was on vacation in the Bahamas. If you can demonstrate that a document was not notarized according to law or contains blank spaces or boxes, that document can be shown to be void and cannot be used to foreclose. In light of this information, it would be wise to examine any notarized documents in your case. First, research if the person who notarized your loan or foreclosure documents is actually a licensed notary by contacting the Secretary of State where the notary resides. What you discover just might save your home.
Congratulations to Investigator McLeod and the Arizona Secretary of State for holding the notary accountable.