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Forged Notary Seals Earn Criminal Longer Prison Sentence

forgery handcuffs resizedForging Notary seals is a serious crime that warrants an “enhanced” prison sentence, according to a federal appeals court ruling issued last week.

In upholding the 10-year prison sentence of a Glendale man who pled guilty to helping orchestrate a $5.4 million mortgage fraud scheme, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Notary seal is an “authentication feature” used to determine if a “document is counterfeit, altered, or otherwise falsified.” As such, it qualifies as a sentencing enhancement under federal guidelines.

Henrik Sardariani was given a substantially longer sentence than his co-conspirators because he admitted to creating bogus property records that included “forged and fraudulent signatures and seals of Notaries,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

One co-conspirator was given a 6½-year sentence, and another was sentenced to four years in prison.

Sardariani appealed his sentence, arguing that authentication features only apply to identification documents issued by government agencies. As such, a Notary seal was not an authentication feature.

However, the court noted that seals are used to authenticate signatures, which federal law considers a means of identification. And Sardariani used the forged seals and Notary signatures to trick county recorders offices into believing the fake documents were genuine.

Related Stories:
How One Notary Was Saved From A Costly Lawsuit Over A Forged Seal
California Man Pleads Guilty In Stolen Notary ID Case

 

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.

7 Comments

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Bryan Davis

26 Aug 2017

How can I report someone that is using a stolen notary stamp under an alias and forging auto titles in counties in Ohio

National Notary Association

30 Aug 2017

Hello. We would recommend starting by contacting local law enforcement to file a report, or filing a complaint with the state Attorney General's office at:http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/About-AG/Contact/Report-A-Scam

Susan

07 Nov 2017

My husband’s name was signed and notarized on a copy of his mother’s will . It was forged ! We live in Fl this was done at an artsy office in NY. What can we do ?

National Notary Association

08 Nov 2017

Hello. If you suspect you are a victim of Notary fraud, you should report it to law enforcement. You may also wish to file a complaint with the New York Department of State: https://www.dos.ny.gov/licensing/complaint.html

Jeff

05 Apr 2018

I am a NYS Notary, and someone in North Carolina, created a stamp using my name and number, and then signed court documents. I've filed a police report with local PD, but nothing is being done. The police dept in NC won't help me. What else can I do to get justice?

National Notary Association

05 Apr 2018

Hello. You may wish to contact the state Attorney General's offices in NY and NC to ask if you can file a fraud complaint.

Matthew Humenik

30 Jul 2018

If I received a notarized document, how could I tell it is actually the notary's signature without calling each and every notary when I get these documents presented to me? What if say a secretary has access to a bosses stamp and seal. Then they sign, stamp and seal it as if their boss did it. How could anyone possibly know? Just doesn't seem like notary's are much more useful then a regular witness. All they have to do is write the Notary's name in cursive.

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