Home Virginia Politics Gov. McAuliffe Signs Bill Addressing Notary Fraud Aimed At Members of the...

Gov. McAuliffe Signs Bill Addressing Notary Fraud Aimed At Members of the Latino Community


Photo and description of the event earlier today, courtesy of Virginia State Senator Jennifer Wexton:

I was proud to stand with Senator Adam Ebbin, Delegate Alfonso Lopez, Delegate-elect Rip Sullivan, and other important members of the Northern Virginia community as Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe signed SB 503, which I co-patroned, and HB 492 into law. They address the growing problem of notary fraud perpetrated towards members of the Latino community, as well as other minority communities. There are many cases of notaries fraudulently charging thousands of dollars for misleading advice. This legislation prohibits non-attorney notaries from offering legal or immigration advice, as well as imposes civil penalties and possible revocation of notary license for repeat offenders.

Also present in the photo are Del. Alfonso Lopez, Del.-elect Rip Sullivan, Arlington County Board Members Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada, State Senator Adam Ebbin, and of course Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Great job by everyone involved in this, including co-patrons Adam Ebbin and Jennifer Wexton, and House Chief Co-patron Alfonso Lopez.

P.S. I don’t recognize the other two people in the photo. Also note that the other House Chief Co-patron, Del. Dave Albo (R), is not in the photo. Hmmmm.


    “Those exploiting misunderstood terminology have swindled victims out of thousands of dollars and caused unnecessary deportations,” said Senator Adam P. Ebbin

    Arlington, VA – Governor Terence R. McAuliffe signed Senate Bill 503 and House Bill 492, legislation that addresses the growing problem of notaries who practice law without a license. In many Latin American countries “notario publicos” (notary publics) provide legal advice, but U.S. notaries who are not also attorneys are not authorized to share this role. In Virginia, there have been cases of notaries fraudulently charging thousands of dollars for misleading advice. The bills are intended to dissuade non-attorney notaries from preying upon Latinos and other minority communities. They prohibit notaries who are not also attorneys or federally accredited immigration representatives from offering legal and immigration advice, and additionally impose civil penalties and provide for the revocation of notary licenses to those who defy this restriction.

    Governor McAuliffe issued a statement shortly before signing the legislation: “My top priority is to build a new Virginia economy that is open and welcoming to all, and that encourages greater economic opportunity for all Virginians. Part of this effort includes protecting everyone in the Commonwealth from fraud. By signing this legislation, we are sending a message that fraud will not be tolerated in Virginia, and I want to thank Senator Ebbin, Delegate Lopez and Delegate Albo for their hard work championing this effort.”

    SB503 was sponsored by Senator Adam P. Ebbin (D-30), who represents portions of Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax. “In northern Virginia alone, we’ve had hundreds of people fall victim to fraud from deceitful individuals who represent themselves as attorneys by using the term ‘notario publico,'” said Senator Ebbin. “Undocumented immigrants are not the only ones affected by notario fraud. This crime often victimizes documented immigrants who can lose their legal status because of an incompetent person representing themselves as an immigration attorney. Those exploiting misunderstood terminology have swindled victims out of thousands of dollars and caused unnecessary deportations.”

    Senator Jennifer Wexton (D-33), who represents parts of Loudoun and Fairfax counties, said “As a Spanish-speaking attorney who practices throughout Northern Virginia, I have seen firsthand the hardship and heartache that Latino families can go through after being victimized by unscrupulous “notarios” billing themselves as immigration specialists. In some instances, families have paid thousands of dollars only to find that their immigration cases have not been pursued. I am pleased that we in Virginia have taken this important step to help prevent others from becoming victims of notario fraud.”

    HB492 was sponsored by Delegate David B. Albo (R-42) of Fairfax and Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-49) of Arlington was the chief co-sponsor. “This bipartisan measure is a major step forward in combating notario fraud in Virginia,” said Delegate Lopez, the lone Latino in the Virginia General Assembly. “I am proud that Virginia has now joined 29 other states in protecting our immigrant communities from the unscrupulous acts of some notarios.”

    Delegate Albo was unable to attend the ceremony but released a short statement about the legislation. “In Spanish, ‘Notario’ means attorney. In American English, a ‘Notary’ is not a lawyer. It is a person authorized to witness signatures. Unscrupulous Notaries are trying to pass themselves off to non-English speaking residents as attorneys. This bill gives consumers protection from notaries posing as attorneys.”

  • Also in the picture Julianne Jaquith, a recent UVA law grad, who did a lot of the background research on the bill and Ms. Leni Gonzalez, president of the local LULAC chapter. Lots of other community leaders were there including Andres Tobar, representing the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations and Manuel Leiva, the president of the Hispanic Bar Association. Delegate Dave Albo, the House Patron of the bill, was represented by his legislative aide as he was in RIchmond today.