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  • Writer's pictureBrian Klein

A Look at Graceland - Mobile Notaries and Their Role in Protecting Against Real Estate Scams


Gates of Graceland. Blue Ink Notary Blog A Look at Graceland - Mobile Notaries & Their Role in Protecting Against Real Estate Scams

A news story hit the papers and TV news reports last month of the pending foreclosure of Elvis Presley's famed mansion, Graceland. What can be learned by notaries and the public in general from this story about real estate scams and what best practices notaries should have in place when handling real estate transactions? Let's take a look.


The Graceland Scam Details

A Missouri company, Naussany Investments and Private Lending, LLC claimed in a legal notice filed in 2023 that Elvis' daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, used Graceland as collateral for a $3.8 million loan in 2018, several years before she passed away. Lisa Marie's daughter and heir to Graceland, Riley Keough, claimed in a lawsuit that the documents were fraudulent, that her mom never borrowed money from the company, that Lisa Marie's signature was forged and that Naussany Investments is not a real entity. A hearing was scheduled in May and the foreclosure proceedings have since been halted.


Fraud Evidence Emerges

A Florida notary public by the name of Kimberly Philbrick supposedly notarized the loan documents in May of 2018. But two signs showed that the notarization was very likely fraudulent.

In the first, Florida notary certificate language reads that the document was acknowledged before a notary public “By means of ( ) physical presence or ( ) online notarization.” Online notarization was checked off as the means of notarization. However, online notarization was not authorized in Florida until 2020, making it highly unlikely the documents were notarized that way in 2018.


In the second piece of evidence, the notary, Kimberly Philbrick, stated in a sworn affidavit that she did not perform the notarizations. “I have never met Lisa Marie Presley, nor have I ever notarized a document signed by Lisa Marie Presley,” she wrote in the affidavit. “I do not know why my signature appears on this document.”


Also, Riley Keough’s attorneys told the court that the promissory note and the deed of trust were forged as well and were never recorded with the Shelby County Register of Deeds office in Tennessee after the notarization was supposedly completed.


Takeaways for Notaries Public & the Public

This case highlights the need for notaries to be extremely thorough in the understanding and application of not only the notarial laws in their state but also the need to have best practices in place to help protect their clients from any threats of fraud. Consequences of fraud like the Graceland example are massive and sometimes not easily rectified!


What Notaries Can Do:

  • Be educated on the notary laws of your state. Be sure to take a course, even if your state does not require it, to learn and understand the ins and outs of the notary laws where your commission is. What types of IDs you can accept from signers, what to do when fraud is expected and how to help report it are all important items in which to be well versed. Be sure to continually learn and stay on top of new notarial laws and regulations.


  • Be meticulous about checking signer IDs. Always always always ensure that the person who appears before you is who they claim to be. A current, photo ID is best - driver's license, non driver's ID or a passport and take some time to learn about how to spot a fake ID. If you're not sure, ask the signer for other forms of ID and you can ask them questions to help confirm their identity.


  • Keep a detailed notary journal. Many states require notaries to keep a journal of all of the notarizations they've completed along with the signers' names, addresses and the method of identification used to identify them. While some states do not require journals, it is considered a best practice to do so. In a case like Graceland, with a properly kept journal, it would be easy to show that Lisa Marie had never appeared in person before Philbrick.


  • Make sure you stay informed. In our digital age, scammers abound and are continually looking for ways to cheat honest people out of their hard earned money and property. Being aware of the latest scams in real estate and banking are extremely helpful in the fight against fraud.


  • Always report suspicious activity. If you think a signer before you may be up to fraudulent activity, be sure to report it to local law enforcement.


For the public seeking to have important documents notarized:

  • Be sure to keep close guard of all of your personal information, including your IDs. Understand and ask the notary what info they are allowed to put in their journal from your ID. Some states limit what ID info can be included in the notary's journal.


  • Notaries are appointed by the secretary of state in most states in America. You can easily search for the notary you are meeting with online at your secretary of state's website. Here is a screen shot of my listing from the Pennsylvania Dept of State's website.

Screen shot from PA dept of state's notary search website with the current listing for Brian Klein of Blue Ink Notary

  • Try to be educated about the latest scams that are out there. These are frequently mentioned on your local and national news broadcasts.


  • In the case of real estate, many states have a program you can sign up for that monitors the deed to your property and can alert you when changes are made.


  • Like the advice above for notaries, if you feel suspicious about a notary's intentions and are being pressured into signing something you don't want to, be sure to report it to the notary division in your secretary of state's office.


Notaries play an important role in every real estate transaction and the scam that was attempted regarding Graceland shows that scammers exist and there are areas susceptible to fraud if notaries are not adhering to notarial law and best practices.


The Graceland case should be viewed as a learning tool for notaries as well as for property owners everywhere!


 

Blue Ink Notary, based in Greater Reading and serving Berks County as well as Lancaster, Montgomery, Chester, Lehigh, Schuylkill and Lebanon counties, has been helping numerous Pennsylvania residents and businesses get their documents notarized since 2019. I am generally available Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm but am also available for emergency early morning, evening & weekend appointments to help you with your documents, so contact me any time with questions. 


To discuss your notary needs:

📲 Call or text 484-509-1405 

🖥️ Visit online at blueinknotarypa.com and message us in our chat box in the lower right corner of your screen or visit the Contact Us page.

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