Notary Bulletin

A Billion Dollar Fraud:
What Would You Do?

It is one of the principles of Notary ethics and best practices that no legitimate request should be refused. But what happens when the notarization request itself is legal, but the Notary knows the client is trying to pull a fast one? Thats the dilemma an Albuquerque, New Mexico, Notary faced when his boss asked him to notarize a statement swearing that the five, $1 billion dollar bills he was using to secure a line of credit were legitimate.

Notaries are not required or expected to determine the lawfulness of a signers documents. However, if they happen to know or strongly suspect that the transaction is illegal or improper, they are obligated ethically  per The Notary Public Code Of Professional Responsibility and, in this case, the laws of the State of New Mexico  to stop the notarization.

While recognizing the impropriety of this request required some knowledge of the U.S. monetary system, it wouldnt take much expertise to suspect that a $1 billion bill was a fake or at least suspicious. The largest denomination currently in circulation is the $100 bill.

Its unclear why the Notary proceeded with the notarization. The bank put the brakes on the line of credit the billionaire was seeking, and the U.S. Secret Service  which investigates currency crimes  was called in. The investigation by the bank and the federal authorities continues.

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Quiz: The Many Types Of Notarial Acts

Notaries perform many different duties for the public — and it’s easy to lose track of the different acts and what states they’re authorized in. Test your familiarity with common — and uncommon — notarial acts.

(A link to the correct answers is provided at the end of the quiz.)

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