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What Would You Do: The Case Of The Bizarre Financial Demand

What Would You Do: The Case Of The Bizarre Financial Demand

The Notary Hotline receives hundreds of calls daily from Notaries nationwide who find themselves in challenging situations. To boost your knowledge of Notary standards of practice, we’ve created a series of scenarios based on actual situations and ask a simple question: What would you do?

Most people who need a notarization ask for acknowledgments or jurats. Sometimes you’re asked to administer an oath or affirmation. But this day a new client comes to you with something called a “Notary presentment.” The document asserts an incredulous financial claim — that the local county owes the signer $1 billion.

The client says he needs you to witness him putting the document in the mail, and to sign a certificate in which you attest to the witnessing. The return address is yours, and you also are expected to sign a certificate later stating that no response was received.

You are doubtful, but the client insists that you are able to do the act because it does not require you to agree with or certify the accuracy of the document. You only are being asked to serve as a witness to the correspondence. He points you to a website that explains the process.

What Would You Do?
 

Members of the NNA community frequently share accounts of encountering dubious or improper notarial practices, and it is not always clear how they should respond. In this case, you are being asked to perform a notarial act that is completely unfamiliar and may or may not be authorized by your state. In addition, the claim made in the document seems to be utterly outlandish.

To participate in this week’s “What Would You Do?” scenario, share your answers in the comments section below. We may mention your response in next week’s Bulletin, when we offer the best possible answer(s) to this notarial challenge.

Additional Resources:

State Law Summaries

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97 Comments

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Judy Chapman

11 Sep 2017

North Carolina notaries should not participate in this action as it is not one of the notary acts allowed by North Carolina law. North Carolina notaries can do (1) acknowledgements, (2) oaths/affirmations, (3) verifications/proofs. Recently a new provision has become a new power, the ability to assist with the inventory of abandoned safe deposit boxes. Nowhere in the law will you find the ability to follow someone to a post office, observe them drop a piece of mail in the box, later certifiy that no response was received. North Carolina notaries primary purpose is to see someone appear before them, check their ID, when necessary administer an oath/affirmation, watch them sign, and notarize their signature. If North Carolina notaries have purchased the new 2016 Notary Manual, they will find information in Chapter 8 which will help educate them on Sovereign Citizens and how to identify them as such.

Wanda D. Cleckley

11 Sep 2017

I am not sure. If it seems under handed I would pass. I would rather be safe than sorry.

Ellen Michaels

11 Sep 2017

In the 12 years that I have been a notary, I've never had a request like this. Sounds a bit shady to me. I wouldn't participate.

John Clark

11 Sep 2017

I'd tell him NO, I will not watch him put it in the mail or certify anything about this at all. Let him send the paper by certified mail if he wants. Also let him threaten to sue me for refusing to take part in this idiotic and fraudulent scheme.

Peggy Maeger

11 Sep 2017

I don't see how this is a notary act. Anybody could "witness" such a thing as an individual but I wouldn't put my seal on that.

Dosha Starbird

11 Sep 2017

So do you sign the document that he has mailed the package?

Gwendolyn Z. Green

11 Sep 2017

I would check to see if this is allowed in my state, and if they are not familiar, I would politely decline to notarize. I would politely tell them that I am declining because enough is not known about the type of notarial act they are requesting and I would not want to jeopardize their document and my commission.

Barbara Kelly

11 Sep 2017

Would say no to his request. As far as I know Texas Notaries have no obligation to witness or notarize all request made of them especially if it could be a request the feel is above and beyond what they feel they have to do.

Kim Peters

11 Sep 2017

I'd decline and send him to the post office to get a "Certificate of Mailing." USPS offers this for exactly this situation. Much better than what he is asking for.

Rosemary Mathews

11 Sep 2017

I would tell the person that I can witness his signature on his written declaration that he performed a certain act. Then I would probably have to consult the NNA hotline because such a person would probably argue and pursue his intentions.

John Clark

11 Sep 2017

I'd say "NO!" and walk away.

Lynette GRaham

11 Sep 2017

I would not witness the signing. If I am correct a witness is legally saying that the act is something that one agrees to. It also puts your certification in jeapordy because you agree with what is in the document whether or not you actually notarize the document.

Cynthia Chavez

11 Sep 2017

I would politely tell him that I am unaware of my responsibility under this request and will get back to him. Then call NNA.

Michele M McKizia

11 Sep 2017

I do not want personal liability of any documents being returned to me or said to be returned. Preferring an arms length transaction; declining to notarize the viewing of said documents being mailed.

B Nowakowski

11 Sep 2017

The one phrase that put this whole thing at a stop is that the person said the return address was the notary's. Of course, I would have asked to seek proof of this amazing sum of money.

Leake

11 Sep 2017

I would not know what to do.

Karen Lindfors

11 Sep 2017

This scenario seems too sketchy. I would not agree to use my address as the return address instead of the signers or to later sign a certificate saying nothing was received. Unless the website is directly from the county which the signer claims owes him money, I'd consider the website as dubious as the request and refuse to be a witness.

Anita Fox

11 Sep 2017

Send him to local Post Office. He can get trace put on letter and also have signature of recpt of letter.

martin brandfon

11 Sep 2017

ask him to sign a promissory note giving me half....

Louis K LeGrant

11 Sep 2017

When in doubt! Just. Don't do it.

Angela Brigham

11 Sep 2017

I would deny the request and advise him to send it certified or registered return receipt mail.

Elizabeth

11 Sep 2017

I would ask the person to send it certified mail through the post office.

ETTA J ZEIGLER

11 Sep 2017

I would say no period!! I am only required to witness signatures. And as far as I know how can I witness something intangible such as a mail box drop?. The client says he needs you to witness him putting the document in the mail, and to sign a certificate in which you attest to the witnessing. The return address is yours, and you also are expected to sign a certificate later stating that no response was received......I think that he is making the Notary legally responsible. No way would I let any client use my address.

Terri Pizor-Leventhal

11 Sep 2017

Since this scenario sent up immediate red flags, I would call NNA immediately for guidance as well as check my state's laws. I would reject notarizing for anyone who is pushy and for a scenario that leaves me uncomfortable.

Donna Smith

11 Sep 2017

Sir, your request is illogical and possibly unlawful. I am a signing agent. My responsibility as such is to verify that you are who you say you are, to review any documents you are requesting to be noterized, determine if your request is legal or needs additional documentation attached and witness your signature on those documents. With that being said, even if this were a job that I could consider, I would pass on it. The fact that you want me to witness you mailing documents that I have no clue what the actual documents are, is enough for me to decline your request. Have a good.

aerospring1@aerospringmfg.com

11 Sep 2017

There is no reason to notarize a document that something was mailed. USPS already has a means for that called Certified Mail, and if you want to know if received, then you get Certified w/Signed Receipt.

rick wessell

11 Sep 2017

When in doubt, politely refuse.

Cindy Kraeber

11 Sep 2017

I feel very doubtful about this scenario. I would call the NNA Hotline and ask their advice, but at first glance, I am inclined to say no to this request. I feel like the requestor is asking for something unethical of me given the ridiculous amount that is referenced in the document. It just seems sketchy.

Terri Hinshaw

11 Sep 2017

I would refuse based on the fact that I would have no way of knowing there was no response.

clandise@mac.com

11 Sep 2017

While I am not a lawyer and haven't researched this, my "gut" response would be to say, a) the document appears fraudulent on its face and I will not participate in a fraud. I would decline and ask the client to submit verifying documentation. b) I would never notarize that i had witnessed an act, I will only attest that the person before me proved that they are who they say they are to my satisfaction.

James

11 Sep 2017

I think that it would be okay to do this while acting as an individual, but not as a notary. It's clearly not a notarial act. If any document I would be signing would want my notary seal, I would just explain that since this isn't an official notarial act, there's no point in me doing this as a notary, but I would be happy to do it as an individual without notarizing the document.

Shaorn Spence

11 Sep 2017

He doesn't need a notary to do this. Hire the bag boy at the nearest grocery store. What I could do is deliver an oath and notarize his signature ( jurat) on a document in which he attests he did all those things. Being an impartial witness does not mean witnessing this scenario. Besides, notary presentment is archaic.

Judi K

11 Sep 2017

If there is any doubt about the notarial act then you should not do it. Only a notary who has been trained for that particular notarial act and is comfortable in performing said notary should do it.

Lisa Lawrence

11 Sep 2017

A notary's job is to confirm the identity of the person signing a document, or issue an oath. I would deny the act of witnessing the mailing of the document, and recommend that he seek the advice and guidance of an attorney, as this doesn't fall into the notary realm.

Marla

11 Sep 2017

Decline

Scott

11 Sep 2017

I am new but from what I understand you could sign as a witness but the second part of signing a statement that no response was received cannot be witnessed but him signing a letter making the statement that it has not been received you could sign only making the claim that you saw him sign the statement and only if it contains notary language.

Anne QH

11 Sep 2017

I would call the Notary number on the California Secretary of State website and tell them what the client requested and asked them if it was doable. I already know the answer would be 'no,' but I will have done my part to make sure.

Erin Allen

11 Sep 2017

Call the hotline! Reason #58644 to maintain my NNA membership.

ErieLack

11 Sep 2017

I perform Notarizations for the company I work for, so this is a bit out of my league. But, I believe that I have the right to refuse any notary act, if I chose to. In this case, I would say a definite NO, NOT, NADA! I would refer them to the Post Office to have them send the letter by certified mail. This would give them the proof they requested. I would not get involved in this scam type item in any way.

Alexis Webb

11 Sep 2017

I would tell the individual that a Notary is one who screens and verifies the identity of potential signers, witnesses signatures, make sure the signers understand what they are signing and are not being coerced into signing and to also place signers under oath to verify the documents are true and correct. If you need your document notarized, that I can do that task but it is not a Notary's duty to verify an action like mailing a letter!

William W.

11 Sep 2017

Personally, I would refuse to comply on the grounds that this isn't within the realm or scope of what a notary in my state is allowed to "attest" to.

BJW

11 Sep 2017

I would tell this guy that I will notarize his signature, only. I will not attest to him "putting it in the mail" or to "receiving no response." No one ever told me that this kind of activity is part of being a notary, and I have never read it anywhere, either.

Barbara J Conquest

11 Sep 2017

As I would be unfamiliar with this form of Notary, I would tell the person that I will check with the Secretary of State as to what I should do. I would ask the person to come back in 2 days (assuming this is during a work week) and I should have an answer for him.

Harroll V. Chisom

11 Sep 2017

First, I'm not familiar with this form. Which leaves me with an uneasy feeling. Second, it looks like I'm NOT an impartial party, since my address is the return address. I wouldn't do it.

Fannie Toner

11 Sep 2017

I haven't looked up the Oregon law on this, but my take would be, it is my duty to identify a person and witness his signature on a document. It's not my duty to witness acts or to verify an amount of money, or the authentic quality of the payment.

Tauheedah A. Rahim

11 Sep 2017

I would ask a seasoned notary. I would not take it upon myself to make that decision.

cbowers7@kc.rr.com

11 Sep 2017

BEING AN X BANKER I WOULD RECOMMEND THEM TO CONTACT AN ATTORNEY WHOM WOULD BE A NOTARY. THEY WOULD INVESTIGATE THE DOCUMENT BEFORE NOTARIZING SOMETHING THAT QUESTIONABLE.

Mike Enright

11 Sep 2017

I will notarize his signature on his document & suggest he go to the post office & send it certified mail return receipt requested.

Kenneth

11 Sep 2017

I would not perform the act as it appears to be outside the normal role of the Notary Public and personally involve the Notary Public in the actions of the individual making the claim. In no way should a Notary have to provide their personal or business address and sign a claim of not receiving a response.

Kim Woodward

11 Sep 2017

The 1st part, notarizing a bizarre statement, I would do, as the content is not my responsibility, just that he signed the document and his identity. As for the 2nd and 3rd part, I would say "No, I'm not commissioned to be a witness to watching someone do anything other than sign a document and their identity." An action like putting something in the mail is outside the notary boundaries. As for the last part, using my address and more verifying, just No! He can hire an assistant or use a family member to do that.

Jack Crawford

11 Sep 2017

First, I would call the NNA Hotline to see if this a legitimate notarial act and if so, how to proceed. Assuming it is not a notarial act, I would offer to send it via certified mail with return receipt. (We're a UPS Store and provide postal services.) However, I would not sign or witness it in any capacity, and he would have to use his own return address. If that is not acceptable, I would suggest that he take it to the post office and see how they might be able to help him.

Debbie Aragon

11 Sep 2017

I would attempt to call the NNA Hotline or Secretary of State for my State. If not reachable at the time, I would volunteer to be a witness only as lay-citizen, not as a notary, on the condition that he remove my return address from the envelope. If asked to then sign a statement that I witnessed him dropping the item in the mailbox, the Statement would have to say that I did not see the contents of the envelope.

Kim Woodwar

11 Sep 2017

For the 1st part, I would notarize the bizarre statement as I'm just notarizing his signature and identity, not the content. As for part 2 and 3, witnessing someone do an act, like putting something in the mail is outside the notary boundaries. As for using my address and more verifying, no way!! He can use an assistant or a family member for that, I'm not going to get that involved in his transaction. Just notarize the bizarre statement and that's about it.

Claire Smith

11 Sep 2017

I would direct him to the post office to obtain the proper proof. California Notaries do not witness activities.

Ms.Sandiego Notary

11 Sep 2017

I personally would not want any part of this, I would not feel comfortable with him using my address, and since I am not acting as a Notary, I can deny him. End of story, he can find someone else.

Donna Kincade

11 Sep 2017

I would certainly call the Notary Hotline for guidance in this situation.

Ms.Sandiego Notary

11 Sep 2017

I personally would not want any part of this, I would not feel comfortable with him using my address, and since I am not acting as a Notary, I can deny him. End of story, he can find someone else.

Nanette

11 Sep 2017

Well, first of all, if I'm testifying that he mailed the document I would have to go to the post office with him. That's not going to happen. Red flag that the return address is mine. Does the document have California wording? And finally, why not send by registered mail, guaranteed by the Federal Government.

Jillian gordon

11 Sep 2017

Tell him to go to the post office. They can verify he mailed something with his own address. I wouldn't do it. I'm not to be involved in the actual transaction.

James Hayes

11 Sep 2017

I would tell hm that his request is beyond my scope of practice but the guy down the block will do it for him.

M. Luisa Nides

11 Sep 2017

No, I would absolutely for no reason notarize such a claim. Too many questions, and uncertainty.

Gary Sinay

11 Sep 2017

I would refuse to witness the document as I wouldn't feel comfortable being a witness on something possibly dubious. I wouldn't tell him that, but offer another reason not to do it.

Jillian McCoy

11 Sep 2017

I would explain that as a notary, I am an impartial witness for signatures on documents, not for actions taken by others. In other words, I am not authorized by the state to perform in the capacity that he would like.

Verne Gordon

11 Sep 2017

This is a strange request indeed; however, CA notary laws dictate that the notary cannot take an acknowledgement or a jurat for any document for which he is a part of. Given the fact that he has used the notary's return address and wants the notary as a witness. There is no notarial act in this case for California.

Ssuan Littlefield

11 Sep 2017

My job is the notarize his signature only in accordance with the laws of the State of California. I would explain this to him, including the difference between an acknowledgement and a jural, and ask which he would like. Witnessing him putting anything in the mail, and signing anything after the fact, does not fall into a notary's scope of work. I would tell him he needs to find someone else to do this.

Monique

11 Sep 2017

No I wouldn't

Don Navaro

11 Sep 2017

You actually answered this question quite nicely in your article on saying "No" to sovereign citizens, where you say, "In general, if a document appears obviously fraudulent or bogus, it is the Notary's duty not to abet it." The document in question is obviously "bogus," and no reputable notary would knowingly aid or abet this person's actions related to the document.

Betty Swammy

11 Sep 2017

If I am not familiar with this kind of request, I would not do the requedt immediately. My state (DC) may not authorize this "presentment". I would tell that person that I must research the jurisdiction requirements. That once it is verified what is allowed, I would call him with my research results. Either I can perform according to DC law, or I cannot do it.

alton

11 Sep 2017

Post office can do this with a registered letter and tracking

Denise Proce

11 Sep 2017

I would not do it because I have not laid eyes on the type documents that are in the envelope and I could be getting myself into something else.

Gilbert A. Blackburn

11 Sep 2017

The answer to this request is a very simple one, I suggest that on one places his/hers business in jeopardy involving such a request. By informing the individual making the strange request that her can go to nearest U.S. Post office and simply send the document by certified mail or registered mail he would have proof from a government agency of the date and the person who mailed the letter.

Joel

11 Sep 2017

The notarial act is to the identity of the signer, which an acknowledgment or jurat do. You could attach an acknowledgement or jurat attesting to their identity, they were before you and their oath via jurat and attach it. While a fingerprint wouldn't be necessary, I would just present the ink pad for a print if they insisted on me providing the notarial act after explaining I'm only verifying the ID of the signer, the document could be in a foreign language as far as I'm concerned.

Kathy Rider

11 Sep 2017

If all he is needing is a witness to say the document was mailed, he needs to send it certified mail with a signature required, to show they received it. I might notarize his signature on the document he's sending, but nothing else. And I don't want it coming back to my address.

ARTHUR CANDENQUIST

11 Sep 2017

This is such a bizarre scenario that verification by an impartial and objective party should be undertaken, to confirm the anticipated financial transaction.

Walter Wing Woo

12 Sep 2017

The notary presentment can be done providing the proper format and documents adhere to the respective state format.

Charles R.

12 Sep 2017

I don't see anything in my Florida Notary Law Primer that lists these acts as within my legal duties. If the website he's directing me to is anywhere other than the Florida Department of State it has no authority for me. Go see a lawyer, and if you need help spending it later, see me outside of work, please.

Susan Collins

12 Sep 2017

I would tell him that perhaps an attorney would be better off to help him as I was not familiar with these types of situations and don't feel comfortable in doing that.

Andra Wierschke

12 Sep 2017

Unless I'm missing part of the story, I don't see a request to notarize anything. They are asking to witness them mailing something. Notaries are not witnesses. I would decline doing this as they need a witness, not a notary.

Andrea Miller

12 Sep 2017

I would politely refuse to witness or notarize. I clearly don't want the person using my address for anything especially since I suspect something fishy with the person and the request.

Leticia Villalba

12 Sep 2017

I would say no and send him to the post office to send his mail via certified mail with a return receipt.

jbuxter@gmail.com

12 Sep 2017

The Post Office has mechanisms to verify that letters have been sent and delivered. I would want no part of anything this unusual. I would decline to assist him.

cjohnson@webinsurequote.com

12 Sep 2017

I would suggest this person go to the post-office and send his document using certified mail.

Lorraine W. Pereverziev

12 Sep 2017

The scenario presented very clearly implies that this person is expecting you to testify in a lawsuit he intends to file. Completing his request would subject the notary to be hauled into court on his behalf. No thanks!

Dawn

13 Sep 2017

I would tell him that is not part of a Notary's requirements that he needs to mail it certified mail so that he is assured that the document is received by the required party.

Virginia M Davis

13 Sep 2017

i'd inform the potential client that I was unfamiliar with the practice in California and that I'd have to run it past the NAA before affixing a Notary Stamp to his document. Then I'd follow the NAA's instructions to the letter.

Jonathan Wanzer

13 Sep 2017

Regarding the first act, attesting to the mailing, here in Oregon, the only actions I can certificate as a notary are the signing of a document and/or swearing or affirming an oath. I would not be able to attest to any other physical activity. As to the second request, even if the return address on the letter was my own, which I would not allow anyway, I would have no way to attest that the letter was ever received or if a response was ever sent, I could only attest that I did or did not receive it. Also, I believe by including myself in this process and using my address I would be making myself a party to the action, which I am also not allowed to do. This whole thing sounds very sketchy.

Dushunna Scott

13 Sep 2017

I would definitely not sign the "Notary presentment". First, the financial claim against the local county is a significant amount of money. Therefore, if something were to go wrong, the Notary would most likely have to appear in court. Second, the return address has the notary's address which puts a lot of responsibility on the Notary. Basically, this person is eliminating himself out of the equation which screams SCAM to me. The entire situation sounds like a very bad day in the making and I would respectfully decline this offer.

Antionette Wilcox

14 Sep 2017

I would not sign the document. 1. Why would it have my return address. 2. I would not be following him to the mailbox to make sure he mailed the document. 3. It is his opinion that he is owed the money; nothing legally binding from the government intity.

Cor Blanken

14 Sep 2017

The request doesn't sound believable. I wouldn't participate.

Hipolito Rizardo

14 Sep 2017

I would advise him to get someone to be the witness and have the witness prepare an affidavit regarding the witnessing of his action. Then I can notarize the witness' affidavit.

John

15 Sep 2017

If he would also sign a document saying he would split the billion dollars with me, I'd go ahead and do it. Then, if it worked, I'd resign as a Notary and buy an island.

Joan A. Baffa

16 Sep 2017

Definitely not. It would be impossible to honestly comply with this request. I would suggest they use the USPS or another courier that tracks deliveries.

Hugh

18 Sep 2017

Note that "Certification of Event or Act" is allowed for Washington notaries (off-site travel and travel fee at notary discretion...), which *could* cover the mailing event. Personally, I would state that I am not authorizing use of my mailing address for the return address and that I would not provide certification for the non-event of no-response.

Tamar Kavich

18 Sep 2017

I would kindly tell the client that this is NOT an act that I would be able (or comfortable) to perform. No signature, stamp, etc.. would be provided. Not only would I find such a request as this to be bogus but I may be inclined to notify the local police department.

Randi Luscombe

19 Sep 2017

I would not sign anything. I do not know what's in the envelope as I have not seen the document. Also, my return address is on the document? No again. I'm not the one mailing it, so I do not want my name on it at all. Notary Presentment? There is nothing about it in the Missouri Notary Handbook, so not a legal document in Missouri. Besides, I can't notarize my own signature.

Marilyn

03 Oct 2017

After looking at the threads, it appears this is legal advice speculations. While it is your right to refuse if you are not comfortable with the request, how can one determine it to be bogus. I have not been ask to do this, but in my opinion, "my opinion" as a notary we cannot give legal advice. If notaries are state witnesses, and it is asking to see if a response is received by a "credible" person I see nothing wrong with the process. Maybe, an attorney is not an option. Nonetheless, I'm not saying I'm asking for this type of work, but, witnessing items placed in an envelope to seek a response if they are using my address does not seem to out of line. Our job is not to read the material, only to either notarize or state the information was placed in an envelope in my presence does not seem sketchy. If my address is used, it's only, to say, if asked, if a response was received by me. Maybe, the Administrative Procedure Act of 1840? (year may be off) Again, my opinion.

Al

16 Oct 2017

I agree with Marilyn...I am not speaking that I know the law but I have actually read about the Notary Presentment in the past. I personally would do it for a fee. I would only be witnessing a signature of the sender. I do not care about the content nor is it my business to care. I have been involved in a situation where the receiving party signed for my letter and they needed to respond within 30 days. Administrative procedures were continued on my part due to them not complying within the 30 days with a response. I continued several more times to get a response and they defaulted. I eventually ended up in court and they swore under oath that a response had been mailed several times but told the judge they did not send it to me certified for proof....of course they were lying....and the judge knew it....I won.... So to sum up my answer, I would not hesitate to do it... I wish that I would have done a notary presentment...we are actually representatives of the state and that is a pretty good witness. Do we really know or care what the person is doing??? If so, we should also ask what every department of the government is doing. Seems to be a lot of fraudulent acts happening and have been happening for decades. How many hundreds of millions and billions are being stolen from the tax payers, by the same people that we voted for (hired) to take care of our rights and interests. So in ending...I would do it to help others...it is only proof that it was sent and a response received by the notary. No big deal...keeps everyone honest about sending and receiving items. The USPS does about the same thing with a "return receipt requested." That can be used by both parties involved. I vote YES

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