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2007 Notary Of The Year Recalls How Keeping A Journal Validated Her Best Practices

Though some believe that maintaining a journal of notarial acts seems like an unnecessary burden, keeping one turned out to be very helpful for NNA 2007 Notary of the Year Joan Sampson when a mortgage fraud ring allegedly forged her seal and signature on a host of bogus documents.

Sampson, a long-time employee of a Northern California real estate developer and NNA Certified Notary Signing Agent, discovered the scheme a couple years back when a title company she regularly worked for called to ask about several notarizations.

Sampson says she checked her journal and found no entries for the notarizations in question. Because of Sampson’s reputation for always meticulously following proper notarial procedures, the title company knew something was amiss.

Apparently, says Sampson, she had performed legitimate notarizations for the people involved in the fraud case and they used the image to fake a copy of her seal.

The case made headlines, and several of the accused recently pleaded guilty. Sampson says she was called to give a deposition in a civil lawsuit related to the case and took her journal with her.

“They showed me document after document, and (each time) I could use my journal to show that I did not do the notarizations,” she said. “My journal had no entries for those notarizations.”

California has one of the country’s strictest requirements for keeping a journal of notarial acts, but Sampson says she would keep one even if there were no requirement.

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