A Notary Public - our country's frontline defense to prevent fraud and forgery...
The Administrator of Oaths; The Authenticator of Documents; The Official Unbiased Witness; The Safeguarder of Identity; all "roles" entrusted by the general population to an official Notary Public. Yet what happens when those trusts are betrayed? Let's face facts: not all people are ethical or moral: notaries are not immune.
Illinois has been hard-hit with mortgage fraud. Last year, federal authorities charged 67 people in a dozen new mortgage fraud cases uncovered in Chicago as part of a nationwide investigation. The defendents received more than $170 million in fraudulent mortgages. For the full story, visit http://cbs2chicago.com/local/operation.malicious.mortgage.2.752302.html. This is one of hundreds of instances of mortgage fraud. According to the FBI, Illinois has been designated as one of the "TOP TEN HOT SPOTS" in the country. To find out if your state is one of the hot spots, visit http://www.fbi.gov/publications/financial/fcs_report052005/fcs_report052005.htm#d1
The recent Illinois Appellate Court Ruling of Vancura v. Katris shows another aspect of mortgage fraud that doesn't necessarily denote a betrayal of trust insomuch as improper training. In the ruling, the employer of the Notary was held directly liable for damages resulting from its Notary employee's notarization of a document. The notary involved in the case was improperly trained by a supervisor who was unqualified and unfamiliar with notary laws and practices. Significantly, the Court determined that an inadequately trained or unsupervised Notary employee posed danger or risk of harm from which employers have the responsibility to protect third parties.
Key Rulings Include:
- Recognizes the duty of employers to adequately train and supervise Notary employees in the full scope of their duties
- In the absence of statutory rules, directs Notaries to look for guidance to such widely-recognized standards as the Model Notary Act and the Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility
- Illinois Notaries may not use the inadequacy of local statutes as an excuse to ignore widely-recognized common law best-practice standards, such as guarding one's seal
The untrained notary now becomes a liability to their employer. The recent ruling, which became effective June 1, 2009, requires ALL Illinois employers of Notaries Public to have their notaries trained. Is your Notary Public a liabiility or an asset?