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A Mobile Notary’s Story: Held Hostage At A Closing

Amanda Doumanian Reeves

“YOU ARE NOT LEAVING!” the real estate agent shouted at me as I attempted to enter my vehicle.

This recently happened to me at a purchase closing, and the experience sent shivers down my back.

The situation started when I was contacted by the real estate agent who desperately wanted to close a home sale — and to close now.

I explained that I had other appointments but could accommodate her if her clients (both a husband and wife) were present and ready to sign and if she would print the documents at her office. She said she had the documents and that both husband and wife would be present, so I headed straight out.

No Documents, Absent Wife
 

Upon arriving at her office, only the real estate agent and the husband were there. They did not have the documents.

After 35 minutes of waiting and still no wife or documents, I said that I had to leave but would come back when all needed parties were there and documents were ready.

As I stood up, the real estate agent shouted at me, “YOU ARE NOT LEAVING!” I started to walk out of the room, and the screaming real estate agent blocked me, grabbed my bag, and then the husband also started yelling. At this point, I called the title company to explain the situation and to get their okay to leave and return when all parties were present.

I finally made it past the real estate agent and outside when another employee from the office began berating me on my professionalism and threatening me. She then placed herself in front of my car door and positioned her body so I could not get inside.

As she was blocking me from getting into my car, the real estate agent made her way outside and joined her colleague in shouting and threatening me. I felt like a hostage.

Video Of The Craziness
 

I asked them both to please step away from my car, but neither of them moved. At this point I really did not know what to do so I called the title company again to inform them of the bizarre situation.

After the two women refused to step away from my car, I proceeded to use my phone to video record the situation. I pushed record on my phone and stated my name, date, location and that I was being held hostage and harassed.

I turned the phone to record the two women blocking my way and screaming at me: “You f*!*!*! Idiot!”

Once the women realized they were being videoed, they quickly moved out of my way. Shook up, I got into my car and emailed the video to the title company with a follow-up explanation. They were so apologetic.

As mobile Notaries, we meet many people and travel to a lot of different locations, but staying safe at signings is always a prime concern. While most people are nice and cooperative, every so often we run into a crazy person.

This situation reinforced a valuable lesson. When faced with a difficult situation, stay calm and professional. Do not get pulled into a physical confrontation, and communicate honestly with the needed parties.

We do not need to stay in a situation where we are being berated or threatened.

Of course, call 911 immediately if you feel you are in danger.

Amanda Doumanian Reeves has worked as a mobile Notary in Tallahassee, Florida, for more than five years and helps run a thriving business, A Notary on the Go, with her family.

47 Comments

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Maggie Campbell

01 Feb 2015

This was a frightening story. I was just thinking about my concerns on going to the home of a stranger and decided that I would always take someone with me. Then I read this story. Now I am sure that I will always take someone with me.

Juanita Saldana

02 Feb 2015

Hi Amanda, So sorry this happened to you, Ithis is a scary situation no one should expiernce, I suggest that that before arriving to any signing appointment ask the clients if the proper documents are in their possession and if all signers are present. No documents and signers present, no signing appoiment, our safety comes first. Juanita Saldana Notary Public NNA

Louise

02 Feb 2015

Thank you very much for sharing your story!

Robert L Timm

02 Feb 2015

As a Notary Signing Agent AND a Real Estate Broker this is a shocking story. I am so sorry that this happened and gives a black eye to the Real Estate profession. I truly hope it is reported to the States Real Estate Commission.

Audrey Jane Spaulding

02 Feb 2015

I have never ever heard of anything like that happening. I have been in the Company of some very Rude Borrowers. One said this was his Signature and it didn't match the Name and I ended up calling the Company and they spoke to him and he still didn't comply and made rude remarks all the time he was signing the paper work, I made a trip in the Middle of January, in a Snow Storm with 4 feet of Snow and just a one way road to a house and got there and the Borrower said that you can't sit down, You just stand there while I sign these and then get the hell out. I am having a Party and this isn't a good time. He is the one who set it up. So I politely stood there and when he finished signing the Documents I was told to leave, He wouldn't even allow me to check the Signatures, nothing. Fortunately everything was Ok. I vowed to not go to this Person's house again. You meet all kinds,. I have had one Lady Get out of Control screaming that she hated the previous marriage even though the AKA showed she went by that name. The Husband tried to calm her down.

carroll

02 Feb 2015

You could have called 911. That was a tort-- and maybe a crime.

Susan Perry

02 Feb 2015

This is a crime- False Imprisonment. The two real estate people should be reported to the real estate board, and terminated. If the statute of limitations has not run out, I would file a police report & show them the video, although they make not file criminal charges because it is a misdemeanor, however, grabbing her bag would be strong arm robbery, a felony. I would have immediately called 911 and also activated the alarm on my vehicle key. People like this need to be held accountable- profusely apologizing is simply not enough.

Deanna

02 Feb 2015

I hope you called the police and reported this incident. As a notary republic you are an officer appointed by the state. What they did is a criminal offense and should be cited as so and held accountable for their actions! The story was interesting... But, left no resolution to these people's actions. That was a potential dangerous situation for this notary public and a so called professional office to boot! I'd be interested in hearing a follow up, as to the punishment this office received.

Mark Sullins

02 Feb 2015

Recording it was a very smart move. I am a 6'2" male so my chances of someone acting like that towards me would be more infrequent than a female notary. I am so sorry you had to go thru something like that. My first response would have started with....you are holding me hostage and that is what I would say to the 911 operator. That along with giving them a 'cease and desist' would have made their eyes get really wide. Good luck with future assignments.

Carol Logan

02 Feb 2015

My first call would be to 911. Then I would call the title company. As aggressive as these people were, I'm surprised they didn't grab the cell phone out of the notary's hands.

Eric Cooper

02 Feb 2015

I feel this was a situation where the notary should not have kept calling the title company. ..she should have called the police!

honestnotary@gmail.com

02 Feb 2015

I agree with the first comment. From the way the story is related the title company had nothing to do with asking for the services. This was essentially kidnapping and the police should have been called the instant she was prevented from leaving. Sounds like a number of possibly criminal acts here from assault on. These folks should have experienced the full legal consequences of their illegal actions.

vj

02 Feb 2015

Should have called 911 first, then the Title company.

Henry Brasser

02 Feb 2015

Wow Amanda, you were very nice to them, I would not have been, it seems you were acting in a very professional manner with respect to them and other clients. I hate hearing that especially because I am a notary and a real estate agent, I understand the pressures of closings on everyone involved including agents but this was completely out of hand, they got away lucky..P.S. don't be so nice next time...

Diana

02 Feb 2015

I use a helpful tool when I go out on signings. I also use my smart phone to start a video and audio recording that is uploaded to Cloud based servers and stored for 30 days (evidence). It also sends notification to my emergency contact list who can login to view the video to determine if authorities need to be called, and it provides a GPS location. More information can be found at www.UbnAppd.com/db23. Even if the phone is grabbed away, a notification goes to the emergency contacts. I almost feel like I have someone with me. Fortunately for Amanda, they backed off with just a phone video. But if they didn't and grabbed her phone and smashed it, there would be no video evidence. I feel better knowing that my app will shine a light at them, record them, video uploads to cloud, and my emergency contacts can call 911 in the event I can't.

Cynthia

02 Feb 2015

Shame on these people!! Such unprofessional behavior. Forget the title company Amanda, your first call should have been to 911. Praise God they didn’t take the phone away from you and you were able to make more than one call. You need to file a police report for the safety of others. I am confused as to how these rude people stay in business.

Justine Sampson

02 Feb 2015

So sorry this happened to you! What a nightmare. They were very unprofessional and you should never have had to go through that. Thank you for keeping us aware.

chris w

02 Feb 2015

Not Surprised and it serves well anymore in the financial and real estate world that we are in......as an NNA MSA and Certified Real Estate Appraiser i too could share some stories....but what is important is your safety and well being.....what is really hard for use is that we are required as appraisers to take the photographs of the comparable sales and listings and some of these homes may have settled a year or so ago....so you pull up and take the photo and out runs a man with a gun, or a dude with a baseball bat, or a husband and wife screaming and trying to take pictures of you.....i stay right were i am and advise who i am and that what i'm doing is perfectly legal( as long as your not on a private driveway, etc) and give them a business card or attempt to calm the situation.....keep your professionalism in order.....and yes out comes the worst in people many times and even worse for those of different races/ethnicity(surely i will here something for that)....sorry i say it as i see it and after 15 years of being in the trenches of 10,000+ homes visited and many more people met.....it has gotten worse and worse being that a lot of default, servicing, and REO work is still in full swing and many of those people are afraid, upset, or just in a "got nothing to lose mentality"....but as a notary i've never seen anyone act this way or even heard of such a thing as most realize they need your service....glad your safe and all is well....you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD HAVE CALLED THE POLICE....forget the title company, how are they going to save you when people are blocking you from your vehicle, in your face, putting you in a near fist fight situation and then calling you a F**cking idiot ?....yeah i really want to do business with that bunch of trash.....all the best !!!

Tom Gorman

02 Feb 2015

You are a very strong calm person, you did the right thing. I hope the agents loose there license, Thank God you are all right. tomgorm

Linda

02 Feb 2015

Wow, that was unreal! You handled it calmly and professionally....that company thought would be taken off my list of future service! lol

DeDee

02 Feb 2015

So glad you are safe. It's rare, but these things can happen. Once, I was yelled at by the lender because they could not explain to the clients how the numbers on their settlement pages were obtained. The clients would not sign unless they understood the numbers. I was waiting for the Title company to call me back when the clients called their lender contact. There were 3 consolidations in the re-fi and it was hard to connect the dots on where the numbers came from. I waited for title to call for a while and then was about to leave when they reached me. Title easily explained and the clients were fine to proceed. The lender was very unprofessional with his yelling and screaming and that is the only signing I almost. All he needed to do was explain to his clients how the numbers were obtained. This is the only signing I ever almost walked out on. Happy Signing!

Barb

02 Feb 2015

1st. call should have been to 911. 2nd call should have been the the Board of Professional Regulation to file a report on the Real Estate Agent and then the Board of Realtors. People like this real estate agent shouldn't be in business in the State of Florida. Kudos on getting the video, it's the only proof you need to get this persons license yanked.

Brian Niegemann

02 Feb 2015

I agree with what appears to be the majority of the commenters- call 911 first if you are confronted, and especially if you are outnumbered. Stay safe at work. If you feel frightened or even just anxious, call the police. Tell them you are being detained against your will and threatened, and yo are afraid for your safety- that's what we pay taxes for. This situation could have ended a lot worse.

Gail

02 Feb 2015

I come from a law background and have close family and friends who are in law enforcement; high five to the Notary for her cool but 911 should have been the very first call at the very first sign of feeling threatened in any way.

Michelle

02 Feb 2015

I would have called 911 immediately! I used to be a mobile notary and I always carried pepper spray and usually when I could I would take someone with me who would wait for me in the car. I'm so sorry you had this experience.

Liz Renfro

02 Feb 2015

I am so sorry for your terrible experience! As a Realtor myself, I can't even imagine acting like that. I agree with everyone and think that you should have called 911 first, but I am glad that you are safe. I would also love to hear a follow up on this story. By all means, you need to file a complaint on the Realtor & her Colleague.

Phyllis

02 Feb 2015

First - I would have immediately called 9-1-1. Period. This still needs to be reported to the police and they need to generate your complaint. I have never heard of such an event. You were harassed, abused and threatened - get an attorney and file suit - I would.

Simone

02 Feb 2015

I am a Notary & am planning on getting certified & have been researching mobile Notaries. This is a very frightening picture. I am thinking of ways to make my experience safe. Have someone accompany me or even have 911 on speed dial

April

03 Feb 2015

Shortly after I started doing closings, I was threatened and blocked from leaving and the ckosing was finished. The man said I couldn't leave til he verified his payments would not be automatically withdrawn. I was held there almost 3 hours. His wife did nothing to help me.

Elizabeth DeCamp

03 Feb 2015

I hope now you'll charge them with kidnapping.

Elizabeth DeCamp

03 Feb 2015

Once the dust settled, I hope she contacted the local board of realtors AND charged both of them with unlawful detainment, a felony in some states. If that woman is lucky she'll JUST lose her real estate license. I don't play.

sherri

03 Feb 2015

You never know what is the best way to respond until you are in the situation yourself..whether it be call 911 or by means you used, but kudos to you for remaining calm... Showing that you aren't going to take it setting down is sometimes all that is needed. You showed great courage

Patricia Hogan

03 Feb 2015

Hi Amanda, Congratulations on your professionalism and escaping that awful appointment. I think you are brave. And I think your attention was on getting out of there and keeping your next appointment. Calling 911 would have prevented you leaving on time.

Tina Gray

03 Feb 2015

This is a very Scary situation to be in.. i have been a notary for 16+ years and we see all kinds here in the state of NV. for the most part my job is mostly done at the Title Co but i do mobiles and i carry police issued pepper spray and put in on the table that is hooked to my keys so it is in site. i did have one signing at a pt's pub that i met the client during a lunch time and i was sitting in a booth that was kinda blocked by the other side and he sat down and i got his DL info then gave him his hud for review and to go over it... he said this all looks good but i won't sign anything until you agree to have dinner with me that evening... and i explained to him that i was in a relationship and was not willing to do that. he did sign then again would not let me out of the booth until i would meet him for a drink and at that point i grab the docs and crawled under the table booth and got out of there ASAP... he called the title co the next day and told the Title co that i was drinking with him and was unprofessional and i was SHOCKED to say the least but hey they knew better as i had been signing for the EO for years. so get some pepper spray i have not had anything happened like that moving forward

Julie

06 Feb 2015

Glad you made it out ok! I recently had a couple who were buying a house with their daughter and SIL. The Daughter and SIL law lived out of state. I was signing the parents in CA. The Mother had ID that read her First Name, Middle Inital, Married Name, While the documents showed First Name, Maiden Last Name and Married last name. She did not have ID showing what the docs stated. I told her we could not continue with the signing. She yelled at me and so did the husband. I told them that I was leaving. Then the berating began. They asked why I signed my name a certain way. I told them my signature is registered with the state and my name matches my ID. The woman and husband said I could not leave until I talked to their daughter in the east. I said that I did not need to speak to the daughter. My only need at that time was proper ID. They yelled me all the way out the door. I was so blown away by this behavior. I immediately called Signing Service and title co. I was shaken. There are nuts out there!

betty

09 Feb 2015

You ALWAYS need to consider your safety. During the winter, I refuse to take signings after 4PM in town and out of town, no later than 12:00 Noon. I should have walked out of a signing with an idiot, first time dog owner who had adopted an abused dog, ushered me into the house without going past this dog in a crate, and then, later opened the crate. The dog cornered me. Had I been bitten, my FIRST call would have been to my DH, an attorney, and then the police. NO signing pays enough to be mistreated or put in danger.

roamobilenotary@charter.net

12 Feb 2015

I've been a Mobile Notary in S. Oregon for 2+ years now which entails some pretty rugged terrain and backwoods folks. I'm OUT there! I've incorporated into the introductory phase of the conversation that we have 1 hour to complete the signing or the signing company will be calling and 'hunting' me down for a progress report. I'm usually done and out within the hour, and shows I am not really out there 'alone'. (They know where you live, and they know where to find me) With your situation, I believe I would have just dialed 911. Then you would have a police report to file official charges on along with your video. Don't let life scare you, just be smart. I've met the most wonderful, interesting people! My favorite 'boony' venture was the pot bellied pig. Wanted love just like a dog and loved me! Laid right beside me and was licking the floor. "Does he always lick the floor" I asked? Well, gist of the story he'd gotten into my purse, latched onto my gum and was sitting there happily chomping away! That pig had the freshest breath in the whole territory! I LOVE this job!

Lori

13 Feb 2015

Happy to read you were able to finally leave. Recording on your cell phone is a good idea. I would've also called 911, reported the situation, had police respond and I would've INSISTED that charges be brought against ALL employees that participated in not allowing you to leave. This was a SERIOUS situation and the police absolutely needed to be contacted. Those who held you hostage needed to be ARRESTED and CHARGED. ..PERIOD !!!

Cynthia Henry

16 Mar 2015

I'm glad you made it out of there safely. I think the first call you should have made when you were in the house was to 911. At least you would have known some type of back-up was on the way. This may have given those people something to think about, and maybe prevented them from doing it to another NSA. Once you got in the car you should have pulled away to a safe place then called the company, etc. Always think of your safety first; you will be alive to look for another job.

Kay

23 Mar 2015

I'm so sorry this happened to you. I would be checking with my attorney, or the state to see about taking a large dog along. There are so many dogs in rescue organizations that need homes and some already have the training. I always had the customer come to my home, I had 2 half lab/half mastiffs if they didn't trust someone they wouldn't leave my side. I actually had a time when I had to call for help, . My female dog wouldn't let the deputy go near the person by herself. I stayed as far away from the situation as I could, however it was funny to see the deputy with her hand on her gun with my lab/mastiff who looked like a black lab but was 3 foot tall when the head was included "helping" the deputy. That person left immediately and never came back. There are also cell phone apps you can purchase. These apps can be setup to call your cell phone showing someone's name on the caller id. If the party thinks you have someone calling to check up on you a lot of times that will smooth the situation over and let you get out of there.

elizabeth_ebclosings@rgv.rr.com

28 Dec 2016

it enough that we go out to assist in signings, let alone having to deal with this, I would not have wasted my time on calling the title company, I would of automatically called the police, this is a crime against the Notary. After that I would call the company and notify them of the incident. I will not allow anyone to get away with committing a crime against me especially placing my life at risk at anytime.

Mister J

08 Jun 2017

Agreed. This is not just unprofessionalism on the part of the real estate agent et al... it is criminal behavior that should be reported to the police. There is no need to try to be diplomatic if somebody is treating you like this. If I was in this situation, at the FIRST sign of threatening behavior and attempting to detain me against my will, I would have clearly informed them that I would call the police if they wouldn't let me out.

Linda Fuller

23 Apr 2018

At times when I enter a neighborhood where I instantly feel unsafe, I contact my nearest relative before exiting the car, to let them know my concern for safety. I give them the address location and the name of the person (s) I am meeting. I determine appx time I would be leaving after signing appt. stating if they do not hear from me by that time to call my phone. If I fail to answer after calling (3) times... call police to come by for a well check. JUST BE sure to let relative or friend know when signing is complete and you are safely leaving so they won't worry.

Rob Rutt

30 Apr 2018

Nobody Can Afford To Be Wrong Once - have some code or system set up that when you arrive at the signing your to check in with the loan officer or the loan officer sends you a text that you have to respond if the signer seems less than credible do you have certain code word you respond with either good that everything is good or question for them to call you or CP for call Police if the signer should see it just tell them it stands for call process

La Don Livingston

23 May 2018

After a couple of creepy incidences I pretty much stay away from home visits.. Now I arrange to visit them at a local McDonalds or Burger King; there we order a soda or something; conduct our business with people around and leave. The shops have never said anything so there's been no problem. It's only in extreme cases that I go to their home (nursing or other type like that I do) otherwise it's places where there are other people. Walking into someone's home is too scary. However, I have traveled into Jails and Homes with Attorneys who have asked for my services. Sometimes the local banks will have me come in and notarize things that they no longer have their notary do.

Rhonda Marie Armstrong

16 Nov 2018

I think that you should have met in an opened space were there where a lot of people like Starbucks

Larry Eason

10 Feb 2019

I am a man 6'0", a U S Marine Corps Veteran and former amatuer state champ in martial arts. Equally as important though is the fact that I worked in a Juvenile Detention Facility for over twenty years. I've been a notary signing agent for over 15 years. Having only been a notary signing agent for approximately 8 years at the time I had an experience where a woman's ex-husband who was present was obviously experiencing some type or paranoia episode as he continued to peer outside of the windows from behind the curtains as he continued to ask why those people kept passing by their house. As I reviewed the paperwork, my back to the wall, with his ex-wife he turned his anxiety and paranoia towards me wanting to know details of the loan which, coincidentally and seemingly fearful, she really didn't want him to know. Honoring her request I explained to him that he was not on the loan thus I could not discuss the details of the loan without her permission with him which further irritated him causing him to become more and more agitated and down right irate. To complicate things further I had my wife in route to serve as a second witness for the the signing of one form. Sensing that I was going to have to use physical force I again eyed my exit points and attack points then immediately began to attempt to verbally de escalate as I had in so many situations inside of the detention center. I then called my witness and told her to abort the mission. I then called the Loan Officer who quickly devised a plan for me to have the husband call him from her phone and ask him to go into another room so that he could hear him clearly. As soon as he would go into the other room I was to exit and allow him to keep the borrowers copy of the docs since he did not want to relinquish the copy which i had for her. As soon as I saw that he was deeply involved in the conversation i exited the home without further incident although I had been pretty sure that I was going to have to use physical force or have to call Law Enforcement in an effort to assist me in getting out of the house before of after I had taken action. I feared that the presence of LE might just further upset him so i chose to just make it out of the house without further incident. Thanks to the quick thinking of the LO a much more serious incident didn't occur. That company not only paid me full price but a little extra which is rare.

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