Update: See our latest article on the Philly Fiasco.
When I first saw this a couple of weeks ago, I could not believe the allegations in Philly. If true, it is shameful. Signing dead people’s homes over to others, and at huge profits.
It is literally the Shasta Signing on steroids.
How to Steal a House
Forge a bunch of documents.
And when people don’t find out until years later, sit back and enjoy the chaos.
The story starts with fake death certificates, deeds and fake wills, among other documents. Some of these documents are notarized. (more on that in a bit)
Then take advantage of the state of Pennsylvania’s security on records and make everything official. After that, sell the home for a giant payday, all at the expense of the real property owners.
There is a lot of mud being thrown around, about the specifics and other issues, and we are going to avoid those for now. But, if proven in court, this isn’t just shameful, it is heinous.
What About the Notary(ies)?
We always give the notary the benefit of the doubt. And they absolutely deserve it in this case.
Forged Deeds. Forged Wills. Forged Notary Stamps and Forged Signatures.
In recent days police seem to be leaning towards forged notary signatures, but came short of mentioning the stamp as well. This is probably because the police are not notaries and do not realize the importance the provenance of the stamp means to notaries.
but it is significant that the notaries’ signatures appear forged as well. The notary is the one person whom the government believes can authenticate an individual’s signature.The Philly Inquirer
The article above explains in painful detail the many problems facing Philadelphia in addressing this crisis, including further regulations regarding notaries.
What if the Stamp was Legitimate?
In itself, it probably does not matter.
Does it matter if it is forged? Does it matter if it was stolen/borrowed, and a copy made? Does it really matter if there is some guy who runs a shop, with a back room, who sells forged stamps (just like the movies)?
The only way it would matter is if the notary is engaged in the act (conspiracy). There is no evidence this is what happened. We have been paying close attention to this story for a several weeks now so we can provide an informed opinion.
And that means taking the right amount of time to let key facts and any allegations come to light. And not rushing to judgment on people who now seem to be less related to the incident than was thought several weeks ago.
And, yes, there was a notary being thrown in the mud a few weeks ago, though we will not provide any links.
Where do We Go From Here?
How does this affect the notary, and the legality behind their signature?
The piece above offers a couple of problems in search of solutions, but at this moment, there is one thing a notary does that stands out.
Keep a clean log book.
And hope that future answers to today’s questions, are done in a smart and efficient manner that is fair to notaries.