The number of reports of suspected mortgage fraud jumped 20 percent in the third quarter of 2011 from the previous year, and most cases involved loans made four or more years ago, according to the latest report from the federal government. That continues a trend identified in previous fraud reports. “As housing markets look to recover, financial institutions continue to uncover apparent fraud as they work through their portfolios of earlier mortgages now in default,” said James H. Freis, Jr., Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). All told, 62 percent of suspected fraud incidents were four or more years old. Another 18 percent involve loans made three years ago. When reviewing many of these cases, authorities will examine Notary journal records. Because many fraud schemes go undetected for years, maintaining clear, complete, and chronological journal records of notarizations creates valuable evidence for authorities, and they are widely regarded as the best form of protection a Notary has against future liability. In recent months, the FBI and other organizations have reported the growing use of borrowed or stolen Notary seals and identity fraud in mortgage scams. Michael Lewis is Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.