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How to report a Notary crime

Illustration of a Notary catching the unauthorized hand using a Notary seal

Updated 9-5-23.

Notaries are the first line of defense against forgery, identity theft, mortgage fraud and other document fraud crimes. This means that dishonest Notaries who violate their official duties can wreak havoc in real estate and other transactions of value when they commit illegal acts. If you witness a fellow Notary intentionally violating their duties, you should report them to the Notary commissioning and regulating official of your state and law enforcement. This is in keeping with Standard X-B-1 of The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility of 2020, which says, “The Notary shall report to the commissioning or other regulating authority violations of the statutes, regulations, and official guidelines governing the conduct of Notaries.”

Illustration of unauthorized hand using Notary seal

Notary crimes cause serious harm

In the mid-2000s, an infamous Los Angeles con artist stole home titles by filing fraudulent deeds. To everybody who met him, this con artist seemed honest and genuine. Using his persuasive skills, he told a local Notary that he helped homeowners in foreclosure who did not have time to appear in person for notarizations. He asked the Notary to sign and stamp one hundred blank deeds, and the Notary did so. The con artist later filled in the blanks to make it look like his companies owned the properties, and then he sold them, took out mortgages against them, or put tenants in them and fraudulently collected the rent.

Another con artist, who belonged to six different churches, victimized church-goers under the guise of being a mortgage broker. At church, where he hunted for his victims, he persuaded his fellow parishioners to fill out mortgage loan applications to see if he could “find them a better interest rate.” Using their personal identifying information, he obtained mortgages in their names and bought 25 houses, which he then filled with tenants and collected the rent. How did he get his victims’ notarized signatures on the mortgage documents? His girlfriend was a Notary who let him borrow her stamp and journal.

Illustration of man talking on oversized phone

Where do you report a Notary crime?

Over the past six months, readers from various states have messaged The National Notary Bulletin’s blog comments section asking how to report alleged Notary crimes they witnessed. One reader claimed a Notary at a local car dealership was signing and notarizing the names of deceased people on documents. Another from New York claimed that a local Notary was notarizing fraudulent signatures with an expired commission. A third alleged a Notary had falsely notarized documents to enable someone else to gain ownership of her deceased father's car.

If you observe that another Notary has intentionally committed a criminal act, you should report the conduct to the agency that regulates Notaries in your state. Some states like Florida and California even provide forms online to make your complaint. However, while state Notary agencies may be able to administer administrative penalties for Notary misconduct, this does not guarantee that a bad Notary will be referred to law enforcement for criminal prosecution.

When reporting a suspected Notary crime in Florida, the Florida Notary Department says a complaint should include any facts related to the alleged misconduct, including the portion of Chapter 117 of the Florida Statutes, which is relevant, along with copies of any documents alleged to be improperly notarized.

According to California Notary Public Section Manager Lee Garvey, the best way to report fraud committed by California Notaries is to complete the complaint form and include certified copies of any relevant documentation to the following address:

California Secretary of State
Notary Public Section
P.O. Box 942877
Sacramento, California 94277-0001.

While the state Notary office can investigate complaints against California Notaries, it does not have the legal authority to order money to be refunded or damages to be awarded. Garvey said any questions about recovering lost funds or voiding fraudulently notarized documents would need to be answered by an attorney.

Illustration of man looking at laptop

Other agencies that investigate Notary crimes

Lee Garvey brings up an important point. Commissioning officials generally do not have the authority to pursue criminal complaints involving Notary misconduct. After notifying your Notary commissioning and regulating official, you should also file a report with local authorities such as the police, the district attorney, or a local government fraud investigative unit. These authorities then can review the report and determine whether to file a criminal complaint against the perpetrator.

“Unfortunately, the most common illegal Notary acts reported to our office are those that we do not have authority to investigate, mostly involving allegations of fraudulent signatures. We advise the complainants to contact local law enforcement, a local prosecuting attorney, and their own private attorney for assistance,” said Arkansas Notary Administrator David Easley.

Even if your state Notary commissioning or regulating official can't directly investigate a complaint, Easley said it’s still a good idea to contact them anyway and report the suspected crime. “By submitting the Notary complaint, they are putting the Notary Public and the Arkansas Secretary of State on official notice that suspected illegal activity has occurred. This is an important first step in seeking any sort of criminal and/or civil recourse,” Easley said.

Sam Taylor, Texas Assistant Secretary of State for Communications, suggested that if the Notary crime being reported involves identity theft, phone or email scams, elder abuse, or healthcare fraud, the suspected illegal activity should be reported to a state consumer protection agency, such as the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division in Texas.

Illustration of man holding documents

What information should you provide?

Supporting information is very important when reporting a suspected Notary crime to Notary commissioning and regulating officials and local law enforcement. You should include as much information as possible about the Notary involved, as many details about the alleged crime as possible, along with copies of supporting documents or evidence you have.

“It is important to include the name of the Notary as it appears on the Notary’s commission, the commission number, the business or mailing address for the Notary, and all relevant details regarding the notarial misconduct being alleged,” Garvey said.

In Texas, the Notary complaint must include documentation that supports the allegations, including a copy of the notarized document in question, and the completed complaint form must be notarized with a sworn statement under penalty of perjury that the information submitted in the complaint is true and correct, Taylor said.

But don’t be afraid to report a suspected crime even if you don't have all the details. You never know when it might add the missing puzzle piece to an investigation that is already underway. If you observe a colleague intentionally violating their Notary duties, make a report to the government agency that regulates your profession and to law enforcement as soon as possible. The damage that an unscrupulous Notary can cause is too great to let it slide.

David Fleck is a former L.A. County Deputy District Attorney with more than two decades of experience in fraud cases. Consuelo Israelson is a freelance writer who frequently covers Notary related issues.

Related Articles:

5 scammers Notaries need to watch out for

Duping Notaries: The tricks fraudsters use


Add your comment

Sandra Bradley Reid

11 Jul 2022

Excited about getting involved with notary. I have had my shield for over 5 years

Maria Barragan

11 Jul 2022

I’m a notary public I renew my linces on o tuber 2”21 but I lost my original car for seal autorización permit. How can I get a new one I don have my seal so I’m not able to notarize any document since last year.please advise thank you

National Notary Association

11 Jul 2022

Hello. If you applied for your commission through the NNA, you can contact our Customer Care team at to request assistance. Otherwise, you will need to contact your state Notary regulating agency directly to request a replacement.

John C. Plantada

11 Jul 2022

I discovered the fraudulent use of my own signature and seal when I received a letter form the CA Secretary of State in late 2020. The letter admonished me for performing a notarial act on two documents requiring a Jurat, and my signature and seal didn't include the required CA Jurat language. Of course, I recognized immediately that I had not performed these notarial acts, but rather my signature and seal had been lifted from another document with some "photoshop"-like software and placed on the documents. Ironically, the documents were filed with the CA Secretary of State and were easily recognized as having been completed incorrectly. I recognized that the person whose signature was incorrectly notarized had had brought a document for a notarial act about 6 months earlier. After investigating, not only did I confirm this, but I determined that she was a CA notary public! I wrote to the SoS with a full explanation, copies of my journal entry (6 months earlier), copies of my journal on the alleged date of the notarial act and other details I won't go into here. I have followed up a few times in the past 1 1/2 years, and except for receiving a confirmation letter shortly after my first follow up call, nothing has been done to suspend or revoke this woman's commission. This is a clear case of fraud. I just checked the Secretary of State's listing and found this woman is still an active notary public. It makes you wonder why the state exam focuses so much on the civil and criminal penalties for illegal activity.

Rene desir

12 Jul 2022

Thanks I get it I will always do the best of me to pay attention for this


26 Aug 2022

When notaries let someone else use their stamp, that is a willful act of wrong doing, - If a crime is done due to that can victims put a claim in the errors and emission - with all of this seems like victims are left with no remedies and notaries all they can say it was not me and they are ok - very unfair

Jennifer M Howlett

03 Oct 2022

I am trying to find out how to report a notary for misconduct. We believe my uncle's will had been altered and it was notarized by his wife's daughter. There is also a witness signature of someone who was deceased 5 days prior to the signing of the will. Any help is greatly appreciated.

National Notary Association

04 Oct 2022

Hello. To help us answer your question can you please tell us what state you are located in?

Roy-Samuel Logan sr

25 Oct 2022

I went to a credit union to get my documents notarized and the notary stated that she was told not to notarize my documents because they were afadatives and can not do them?

National Notary Association

31 Oct 2022

Hello. To help us answer your question, can you please tell us what state you are located in and describe the type of notarization you requested for your documents?

Melissa Torres

26 Oct 2022

What happens after I submit the Complaint Form? Will I be notified about anything? Will the Notary and signing witnesses all know it was me who reported them?

National Notary Association

31 Oct 2022

Hello. You would need to contact the agency you submitted the complaint to in order to ask about anonymity, any follow up response on their part, etc.

Beth Ann Elias

10 Dec 2022

Wondering if a realtor who is also a notary, state of Florida, can notarize sales of motorcoach lots in which she and her husband are part of or work for the company who owns/developed the property? The Notary/Realtor recieved commission on over 80 lots that ranged in price from $140,000 to $350,000. Should she have to return the commission of each lot?

National Notary Association

13 Dec 2022

Hello. We cannot comment on whether a person is required to return a commission or not. FS 117.107[12] states the following about employees and disqualifying interest for Notaries: “A notary public may not notarize a signature on a document if the notary public has a financial interest in or is a party to the underlying transaction; however, a notary public who is an employee may notarize a signature for his or her employer, and this employment does not constitute a financial interest in the transaction nor make the notary a party to the transaction under this subsection as long as he or she does not receive a benefit other than his or her salary and the fee for services as a notary public authorized by law”

Concerned in Calif

14 Dec 2022

Notary is in Ca. Notary and notary’s sibling responsibility for medical power of attorney/advanced directive for their mom. Their mom was in long term care home with advanced Alzheimer’s. The sibling was going to be out of the country for a month, so the Notary drafted document giving the Notary “full control” in the event their mom died including cremation/funeral & asked the sibling to sign it. The notary then notarized it. This was 2 years ago. Their mom recently died and the Notary is now demanding to plan the entire memorial mass and reception, stating that the sibling legally gave the notary “full control”. The sibling thought the doc was to cover removal of body from long term care and cremation while the sibling was out of the country. Not the memorial mass and family/friend reception. The sibling is the sole trustee of the estate and wishes to coordinate the memorial mass and family/friend reception, Can a notary create a document that gives them full control of these types of matters, have someone sign it , and then notarize it themselves? This seems unethical.

National Notary Association

15 Dec 2022

Hello. We cannot comment on the specific legal issues you are describing-you would need to speak to a qualified attorney to answer any legal questions about the situation. However, in general terms regarding disqualifying interest in California for Notaries, we can tell you that California Notaries are prohibited from notarizing their own signatures, or notarizing if they have a direct financial or beneficial interest in the transaction: “A notary public shall not take the acknowledgment or proof of instruments of writing executed by the notary public nor shall depositions or affidavits of the notary public be taken by the notary public” (GC 8224.1). “A notary public who has a direct financial or beneficial interest in a transaction shall not perform any notarial act in connection with such transaction. “For purposes of this section, a notary public has a direct financial or beneficial interest in a transaction if the notary public: “(a) With respect to a financial transaction, is named, individually, as a principal to the transaction. “(b) With respect to real property, is named, individually, as a grantor, grantee, mortgagor, mortgagee, trustor, trustee, beneficiary, vendor, vendee, lessor, or lessee, to the transaction” (GC 8224). However, there are disqualifying interest exceptions in California for Notaries acting in certain roles: “A notary public has no direct financial or beneficial interest in a transaction where the notary public acts in the capacity of an agent, employee, insurer, attorney, escrow, or lender for a person having a direct financial or beneficial interest in the transaction” (GC 8224).

Lenard l Farr

15 Dec 2022

My wife has a paper that my Mother allegedly signed in front of a notary giving her half of my mother’s house along $41,000.00 in bonds that were in my mothers name and 4 of Our children. She has cashed these bonds as far as I know also a lot of personal property. There’s one problem the house was given to me three years prior and I sold it two years prior to this paper being allegedly signed by my mother. I filed a complaint with the state of Florida. They basically told me they don’t check to see whether it was progeny signed or not. So my question is where do I go from here Florida says it’s not their job to see whether or not my mother was there when he notarize the paper. I had gone and seen my mother about 10 days after this paper was allegedly signed. I asked the owner of the assisted living facility where my mother lived whether someone came in and notarize a paper for my mother. The owner informed me that yes one notary came in and he gave me a copy of what he signed it was power of attorney for my wife on my mother because she was dying and the normal power of attorney was no good on my mother anymore because she was dying. The notary on this new power of attorney was not the same notary that signed the paper on giving my wife 1/2 of my mothers house. My mother also informed me that very same day that my wife had informed her that she forged a paper with my mother signature. I had my wife sign another paper so I do have something to compare her signature with along with the power of attorney paper that was just signed.

National Notary Association

16 Dec 2022

Hello. If you believe yourself to be a victim of fraud, you should contact law enforcement to file a report or speak with an attorney.

Tuana Shelton

27 Feb 2023

This person put there notary on a will that was suppose to be prepared that was never signed or filed. She is a friend of someone who is getting over.

National Notary Association

27 Feb 2023

Hello. If you suspect a Notary of misconduct or fraud, you should contact your state Notary-regulating agency or local law enforcement.

Andre Bocicot

17 Mar 2023

There was a friend of mine who had a power of attorney that i did not grant notarized by a FL notary. This notary did it in spanish and they falsified my signature. They took this POA to another country and because it was notarized here in US( in the country they believe she is a lawyer) as notaries are lawyers. They stole my property because of this POA i did not authorize. I already filed with the governors dept to report fraud. How do i go after her bond company and get this reversed to present in country my home is. I am Haitian do not read or write spanish and she notarized the document in spanish.

National Notary Association

20 Mar 2023

Hello. We're sorry, but we cannot assist with advice regarding another country's legal procedures. We would suggest contacting an embassy or consulate of your home country to ask if they can assist you or direct you to the best resources to help you.

Elizabeth Franks

28 Mar 2023

My abusive husband and daughter and the notery all committed and forged a court document to take my youngest son and take him away from me now none of the 3 of my children can see talk to him in a year we know the location In a other county they were friends of there my oldest son was present when ex husband daughter signed paper WITNESSES HOUSE then my daughter took paper to the notery days later to be noterized by my husband's ex employers wife to get noterized and daughter filled in court I had no knowledge till days later when I refused to have husband ever put his hands on me especially in front of our children please I need to know how to complete this fast my son wants to live with his mother and because I refused to let her just keep my son and do as she wanted I do not want m5 Y son to be mistreated or feel so neglected and abused again he refuses to do be anything but rebellious he is getting beat on by daughter and husband constantly the husband gets drunk and gets physically with my 11 year old son daughter lies tell him she's his mom won't bad horrible this to him I can't talk privately with him when she would let me talk with him she's punishing him If he tries to tell me anything he's having done to him he whooped pushed and now he can't talk to me I haven't seen at please anything I possibly due

National Notary Association

03 Apr 2023

Hello. We are very sorry, but we cannot provide legal advice in a child custody dispute. You would need to contact a qualified attorney to answer any legal questions about your situation or provide you with legal advice.

Noel Cino

20 Apr 2023

notary fraud

barb morgan

29 Apr 2023

My siblings forged a notaries stamp and signature to transfer family land to them. The notary in question said she had never seen or met them. I have a copy of the deed. I explored every option. Lawyer,DA,PD,Sheriff even a few state offices. came across your site really by chance. Where would I report this. I could not believe no one cared. I live in Northern Wi. Hapenned in Sawyer county. oh, also went to reg of deeds. They escorted me out of the building. They did not want to hear it.

National Notary Association

01 May 2023

Hello. If you wish to report a Notary violation, you can file a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of FInancial Institutions. The complaint form can be found here:

Ronnie J. Burklew Sr.

19 May 2023

My wife had an Emergency Motion file on me to get me removed from the house. The motion was full of falsehoods. The judge awarded me the house and she had to leave. So that backfired on her. The Notary on the court document is her best friend and knows me personally. We had been to their house, my wife has even stayed at her house since we have been separated. our kids play together and my wife works with this Notary at the post office everyday. The notary friend signed this motion knowing full well the allegations were false and cause extreme emotional, physical, & financial stress on me and my son. I hope there is some action I can take. If the notary did it once they will do it again.

National Notary Association

19 May 2023

Hello. Any questions about legal options in the situation you describe would need to be answered by a qualified attorney.

Jessica King

07 Jun 2023

Notary signing her own stamp. How to report.

National Notary Association

07 Jun 2023

Hello. To help us answer your question, can you please tell us what state the Notary is commissioned in?


28 Jun 2023

I live in VA and a notary - my brother’s neighbor is a notary and when my mother passed- he had my father (with 6th stage dementia) sign a durable POA- took it home and she then Notarized the signature - and he used it has financial ruined me. called the local police - told to call Secretary of State gave me a number - that number was of no help (told me How to become a notary. An attorney wants 7500 to start - This is an absolute nightmare

Eugenia lauga

05 Jul 2023

Can a notary give out my information over the phone if somone calles and ask questions about my personal papers and information?

National Notary Association

06 Jul 2023

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.

Vernon B Darby

06 Jul 2023

A UPS notary in lumberton nj illegally notarized an insurance Securities Bond without me being present or giving consent and it cost me $27,500 as a result the company then changed owners and said they don’t have any records when the law states they must keep a journal for minimum 10 years the Presence Requirement act was violated in my case I have all the evidence you could imagine to prove my case please help

National Notary Association

06 Jul 2023

Hello. You will need to speak with a qualified attorney for advice on legal options in your situation.

Grisselle Velez

30 Aug 2023

In westchester court house judge for my divorce and lawyer know paperwork was fake and take the paperwork anyway

Jacqueline Hamilton

18 Oct 2023

A company recently reached out to me to do a credit card documentation for a lady I never received my payment from this service. What do I do? I have contacted them multiple times and sent my invoice multiple times still no response.

National Notary Association

20 Oct 2023

Based on what you’ve described, we think it would be best if you contacted our Hotline team by phone and provided them with a more detailed description of the situation. The NNA Hotline: 1-888-876-0827 Mon – Fri: 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday: 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT) If you’re not an NNA Member or Hotline Subscriber, they will provide you with a one-time courtesy call.


19 Oct 2023

If a Notary public caused monetary damages, in Florida, about $5000.00, and I want to file with a court against his criminal act more than for the $5000.00, what kind of lawyer handles this criminal acts? I call it a criminal act because the Notary public helped the mother to improperly notarise the DS 3053 passport renewal consent form and because of this improperly notarised consent form, I missed all my travel bookings this past summer as the passport of my child did not come on time to travel. I don't actually want to get a lawyer to file, I just want to know what kind of form I can use to file such a criminal act against this Notary Public. Thanks

National Notary Association

20 Oct 2023

Hello. We're sorry, but if you are seeking legal advice regarding recovering financial damages, you will need to speak to an attorney who handles lawsuits. We cannot provide legal advice regarding what documents to use to file a lawsuit. If you wish to file a complaint against a Notary who you believe has violated state law, please see this website for instructions on filing a Notary complaint with the state of Florida:

Dr. Beverly Newman

29 Oct 2023

I filed my notary complaint with the Florida Governor's Office on August 3, 2023, and have received no response at all.


08 Nov 2023

I have filed multiple complaints against the same notary in the state of New Jersey 6 months ago, however I never heard back from them

Julie p

13 Nov 2023

How can I repot public notary for Falso Information and sgin someone name when they wasn't there

National Notary Association

14 Nov 2023

Hello. To help us answer your question, can you please tell us what state you are located in?


30 Dec 2023

the notary told me my father wasnt present as the testator of a will. she was friends with my siater who was not allowed near my father as the one in comtrol of hos estate and she wasnt raised by my dad she was asopted and its a fraudulent signature. its my dad and he has a wife who is my mom. this notary stole wverything from out family i couldnt evwn have a funeral and help us have closure. she ruined our lives and gave everything to the one who possibly killed my dad. my sister is under inveatigation and the notary told me on a recorded lone that my dad wasnt present during the signing. also i have like 40 messages from the notary. what do i do.

National Notary Association

02 Jan 2024

Hello. We're sorry, but you would need to contact an attorney or law enforcement for information on legal options in this situation.

Tina Johnson

21 Feb 2024

How do you report a complaint agains a notary in Kentucky?

National Notary Association

04 Mar 2024

Hello. You can find a complaint form and instructions here:

Joy Clemmons

21 Mar 2024

A notary had me sign on card board then made duplicate entries of my signature for illegal purposes. I want you to know so this won't happen again to anyone.

Pj Moore

11 Apr 2024

A person is a a fugitive from one state with criminal charges pending (identity theft, using info obtained to threaten & harass, FTA. When & if convicted it would be 3rd id theft. How does this person obtain a notary commission?

National Notary Association

12 Apr 2024

Hello. If you suspect a Notary to be involved in illegal activity, you should contact the appropriate law enforcement agency or your state Notary regulating agency to report it.

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