Really Long Distance Venue Fraud - Complacent Notary

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Really Long Distance Venue Fraud

We all know what the Venue is. It contains the State (or Commonwealth, etc) and the County (or Parish, etc.) of the notarization. Specifically, it documents where the notary (not the affiant in some cases) signed the document. If an Acknowledgement is being issued; the affiant could have signed the document in Japan, and have their signature acknowledged in New York. There is no need to witness the actual signing (at least in NY State) when issuing an Acknowledgement. The one constant is that the Venue documents where the Notary signed, that does not change.

But, of course, it can change when fraud is involved. Prior to discussing the particular scam of the day; a bit about venue errors. Chances are that, sometime in our career, we issued an instrument with an improper venue. It’s a slight error, and will probably sail through the system unnoticed. That is not the case in the fraud I am about to disclose. But, first, rest assured that I personally took no part whatsoever in the scam. I could have made some “easy illegal” money, but choose to pass on the request. I’m sure someone else will process it.

OK, now to the scam. I get a long distance call from London. The person at the other end has a document (type not disclosed) that needs an Apostille. At first she does not tell me where the call is coming from. The request is to Apostille, and I am assured that the venue entry contains State of New York, County of New York. That alone raises my antenna. It’s rare for non-notaries to mention the venue by name, virtually never.

I offer to go to pick up the document and ask where the caller is located. “London” is the reply! Now I am expecting to hear that it was signed in New York City, and the caller did not know that an Apostille would be required to use the document in the UK. I choose my next question very carefully: When was the document notarized? Reply: Ten Minutes Ago and it has today’s date! I can FedEx Overnight it to you so you can Apostille it tomorrow, your address please.

I ask her to double check the venue, yup, it’s NY NY. And you say it was done moments ago in London, in the United Kingdom? Yes, I know it’s a bit unusual; perhaps I should explain. What follows is a lengthy description of how slow the procedure is to obtain an Apostille in UK. So, what we do is use a NY notary, whose license is “still valid” who joined our firm in England! He notarizes the document using his NY authority. It’s much quicker to ship the “properly” notarized document to our regular Apostille processor located in NY; who then ships the Apostille bearing document back to us in London. It’s really quite legal and proper and we get the results much faster. As a Notary Public you should know that an Apostille issued in one country is pretty much the same legally as one issued in a different country. Our way is just faster and more efficient! We can use an American Apostille the same as a UK Apostille.

I am stunned, rarely have I heard such blatant fraud coming from someone who seemed to feel that the “slight” irregularity was trivial. I believe the caller had no fraudulent intent, but was actually the victim of a very unethical notary. I am not “Deputy Dog” and law enforcement is not my profession. I made no attempt to learn the name of the notary involved. I did explain that the procedure, however convenient and expedient was totally illegal and improper. The bottom line: I am sure they simply called another notary, said less, and by now have their fraudulent Apostille.  


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Kenneth Edelstein

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