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1. A Criminal Case Study of Fraudulent Electronic Notarization: Lessons Learned NNA California eNotarization Forum
Los Angeles, California
October 19, 2005
3. The San Diego City Attorney’s Office Civil and Criminal Divisions
Over 130 Attorneys
Civil Advisory and Litigation
Criminal Misdemeanor Prosecution
General Trial Unit
4. Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit Five Attorneys
Civil Cases – Unlawful Business Practices
Criminal Cases – Consumer Fraud, Theft, Unlicensed Business Practices
Something New Every Day!
5. First Notary Complaint Discovered Forgery of Signature and Seal
Secretary of State Response
Referred to Local Police Department
Couldn’t Help – No Monetary Loss
Referred to San Diego City Attorney
6. First Notary Allegations Former Notary for the Company
Debt Collection Services
Forged Signature and Seal
On 50-100 Affidavits (Verification of Account)
All Sent to Attorney’s Office in Kansas
7. The Affidavit in Question
8. Initial Investigation Confirmed Kansas Received Documents
Dated over 30 Days after Notary Resigned
Signature Scanned or Forged?
Seal Scanned or Copied?
Is there a victim? Kansas Attorney? The Kansas Courts? The Notary?
Another Notary Came Forward
9. Second Notary Allegations
Notarized 50 Affidavits at a Time
300 Affidavits Needed Notarization
Company wanted to Scan Signature and Seal
Legal or Not?
Must Protect Seal, Signature, and Log
Refused to Notarize any more Affidavits
Seal and Signature might be Scanned
10. Additional Investigation Company had an Electronic Journal
Backlog of Affidavits
Told Notary2 would Password Protect her Signature and seal
Attempted to Develop In-house System
Claimed Affidavits were a Test – not meant to be sent to Kansas
11. Charges Considered Forgery (signature) – PC 470
Forged Public Seal – PC 472
False Personation – PC 529(2)
Coercion of a Notary – GC 8225
12. Forgery Penal Code section 470 (signature)
Penal Code section 472 (seal)
Easy to Prove the Forgery
Specific Intent to Defraud – a lot Tougher!
13. False Personation Penal Code section 529(2)
Assumed Another’s Character
Verified or Published a Written Instrument
Intended it be Recorded or Used as True
14. Coercion of a Notary Government Code section 8225
Solicited, Coerced, or Influenced a Notary
To Perform an Improper Notarial Act
Knowing the Act is Improper
What was the Improper Act?
15. Improper Acts Scanning the signature?
Electronic Signatures - Civil Code 1633.11(a)
Digital Signatures – Government Code 16.5
Scanning the seal?
Government Code section 8207 and 8207.3
Under exclusive control of notary
Allows for an electronic seal
16. Improper Acts Asking Notary to Notarize 300 Affidavits signed 3 months ago?
Using Electronic or Traditional Journal?
Government Code section 8206
Direct and Exclusive Control of Notary
17. Outcome Corporation Plead No Contest to Five Misdemeanor Violations (unlicensed practice)
$10,000 for NNA Brochure and Ad
Forensic Analysis of Notary Practices
Reduced to Infractions when Completed
18. Lessons Learned Growing Need for Electronic Notarization
Secretary of State Jurisdiction is Limited
Businesses want to do the Right Thing
Laws and Regulations Unclear
Inadequate Guidelines for Businesses and Notaries
19. A Criminal Case Study of Fraudulent Electronic Notarization: Lessons Learned Joan N. McNamara
Deputy City Attorney
San Diego City Attorney’s Office
1200 Third Avenue, Suite 700
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 533-5699 (phone) 533-5504 (fax)