Notaries Enable House Theft in Philly

Notaries check identities

Notaries check identities

Pennsylvania State Representative Kevin Boyle has been dealing with Philadelphia’s problem with stolen houses since he worked for the city councilman in 2000.

From 2000-2008 Philadelphia had 454 cases of suspected land fraud. Some victims, like soldiers who served in Iraq, lost their homes when forged documents transferred their houses to new owners in their absence.

At the heart of the problem stood Pennsylvania notaries, professionals licensed by the state whose job is to verify the identities of people who sign documents in front of them.

Many of the house thefts were caused by notaries who did not properly check identities. As State Rep. Boyle dug further into the matter, it became clear that the penalties for the notarization of fake documents were not strong enough to deter notaries from committing this type of fraud.

Thanks to new legislation, intentionally notarizing a fake deed while performing notary services is now considered a third-degree felony and is punishable by a minimum fine of $2500 and up to 7 years in prison.