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Soverign Citizens Abusing Apostilles

One of the tactics anti-government activists have been using recently to circumvent federal and state laws is misusing apostilles — state-issued certificates verifying the authenticity of a notarization on a document being sent to a foreign country. Tom Wrosch of the Oregon Secretary of State's office, a notarial expert who has closely followed the activities of members of the so-called “sovereign citizens” movement, recently discussed the nationwide trend.

Exactly what are anti-government activists doing?
The apostille is very important to them. Someone will have a certificate or affidavit claiming not to be a U.S. citizen, but a citizen or ambassador of a made-up entity. They get somebody to notarize the affidavit then go to the state to get an apostille put on it. They wave that around as an ID. Some people even make laminated cards. But courts take a dim view of this. [Link to:]

Are there other schemes using apostilles?
There are people who use documents with apostilles as a way to get into foreign countries. An individual might, for example, get a degree from a diploma mill, have that certified by a Notary and obtain an apostille for it. Then they’ll leave the country, claim to have lost their ID and use the notarized diploma to get a new identity.

Are there businesses promoting this trend?
Some people make a living doing “how-to” seminars. They are the main generators of the trend. Their students follow rules they have been given. They produce all this stuff. And it takes a long time for law enforcement to get seminar instructors out of circulation.

How should Notaries respond to such requests?
If a document appears obviously fraudulent or bogus, it is the Notary's duty not to get involved. If a Notary is unclear about notarizing something, do not hesitate to call the state’s commissioning agency.

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