in this issue

Wayne and Mitzy Bolin, a husband and wife closing team for Fidelity National Title Agency's Springfield, Mo. office, were handling the sale of a property that had been foreclosed and was now being re–sold. The property was owned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The real estate broker and purchase money lender showed up at their office for a 9 a.m. signing without the buyer. The closing documents had arrived from the law firm of Luna & Luna, LLP with the instructions that the lender or broker were to deliver an original power of attorney for the purchaser. The attorney–in–fact for the purchaser was the real estate broker.

Wayne asked for the original power of attorney for examination upon their arrival. They handed him a copy of the power of attorney. The real estate broker proceeded to say that he left the original in his office and would send it via overnight delivery directly to the law offices of Luna & Luna. Wayne informed him that until he had an original power of attorney in hand he could not close, per the instructions of Luna & Luna.

Then, on the copy of the power of attorney, Wayne noticed the notary had notarized the purchaser's signature that very morning, when supposedly the purchaser was in Connecticut! When Wayne asked the real estate broker how that could happen, the broker responded the notary had notarized a faxed signature of the purchaser.

Wayne called Luna & Luna and informed them of their findings and their suspicions the transaction was fraudulent. The transaction was cancelled and Wayne sent the broker and lender away with a tongue lashing for attempting to pull a fraud over on him! The broker's and lender's response to Wayne's disgusted remarks were, "This is why we ask for mobile notaries, they do not catch this kind of stuff!"

The fact the broker and lender attempted to pull a fraud on a government–owned property is astounding! They could have both been debarred from handling the purchase and sale of government–owned properties for the rest of their lives. As for the Bolins', they received a $1,000 reward as well as a letter of recognition from the Company for their detection of a bad notary acknowledgment and for not succumbing to the closing pressures of the real estate broker or lender.




What are the two fundamental rules for performing a notarial act? Physical presence and proper identification are the two most basic requirements. The notary in this transaction had neither. The notary acknowledged the purchaser's signature without their physical presence and without proper identification since the principal was not there to present an identification card. Had the transaction closed as the broker and lender intended, the Company could have been exposed to a potential claim by the buyer for forgery and the lender for forgery.

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