New York Cracks Down on Notario Fraud

The New York Department of State (DOS) recently announced the adoption of new regulations for notaries public aimed at protecting the public from unscrupulous notaries who use their title to commit fraud and cheat people by posing as immigration professionals and attorneys. The DOS oversees the commissioning and enforcement of the notary public occupation. “For a long time now, con-artists have been hiding behind the veil of the notary public occupation to commit egregious acts of fraud and victimize thousands of people in our state. These new regulations will put the brakes on immigration scammers and expose these bad actors”, stated Secretary of State Perales. “New York State can finally look forward to the day when the notario fraud reference is no longer part of its lexicon.” Quite often, immigrants seek immigration assistance by contracting with a notary public. Because the word for notary public in some languages implies that the individual is an attorney, some hold themselves out as qualified to help immigrants obtain lawful status, or able to perform legal functions such as drafting wills or other legal documents when they are not authorized to do so. Many times, these fraudsters charge excessive fees for services that are never provided. At times, victims are so damaged by these con artists that they permanently lose out on important immigration opportunities. The new regulations will prohibit notaries public from advertising their services using foreign language terms that falsely represent or imply that the notary public is an attorney authorized to practice law, or authorized to provide immigration advice. The new regulations require notaries public who use foreign language to advertise their services to include the following disclaimer in their advertisement, “I am not an attorney licensed to practice law and may not give legal advice about immigration or any other legal matter or accept fees for legal advice.” The adoption of these regulations will provide stronger consumer protection to immigrant communities and they are especially timely given the recent reports of scammers targeting young people who are eligible to be considered for relief from removal from the country and eligible to apply for work authorization through the new federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program. The regulations will be effective three months after the notice of adoption. Notaries found to have violated the new regulation could face the revocation or suspension of their notary commission or the imposition of a fine of up to $1,000 per violation. The case may also be referred to the Attorney General’s office for further action.

Blog Topic: 
Scam Alerts

Leave a Comment

Comment Policy

This is a moderated blog; we review all comments before they are posted.  We expect participants to treat each other and the bloggers with respect.  We will not post comments that do not comply with our comment policy.  If a submitted comment includes a link to a commercial website, we will delete the link and post the comment. We won't edit comments except to remove links.

We won’t post:

  • spam or off-topic comments
  • comments that contain vulgar language, personal attacks, or offensive terms that target specific groups
  • sales pitches or promotions
  • comments that contain clearly misleading or false information
  • comments that contain personal information, like home addresses

Comments submitted to this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personal information. Also, do not use this blog to report fraud; instead, file a complaint.

If you have questions about the commenting policy, please contact us.

Read Our Privacy Act Statement

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a
user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act
authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online
comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s
(FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer
user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the
FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles
information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.