Theft of Services

Here’s the deal people. If you provide a service and you’re not paid in a timely fashion or per confirmation when you get right down to it it’s considered “theft of services” and in most jurisdictions, that’s a criminal charge. Call the local PD even if they don’t do anything they have to assign a case #. Then send the company a certified letter listing the case #, then sue them. I get it, it’s a lot of work. Sometimes it’s easier to cut your losses, but sometimes enough is enough.

I’ve always reported the sub-companies to the title company and told them the payment was never received. Put them out of business.


Thank you, @j_currie .

For anyone in Florida who cares to know if it applies - F.S. 812.012(6) Further research by each individual would be needed to determine procedures for claiming this along with penalties that apply.

"812.012 Definitions.—As used in ss. [812.012](

(6) “Services” means anything of value resulting from a person’s physical or mental labor or skill, or from the use, possession, or presence of property, and includes:

(a) Repairs or improvements to property.

(b) Professional services.

(c) Private, public, or government communication, transportation, power, water, or sanitation services.

(d) Lodging accommodations.

(e) Admissions to places of exhibition or entertainment."


So, I presume that “PD” means the police department. You’re telling us that you bug your local “PD” with an unpaid notary fee crime so that you can get them to issue you a case number? Are you serious? With defunding the police campaigns going on and street crime skyrocketing, your suggestion is to tie up critically thin public resources with complaints about not getting paid? Getting stiffed on a fee is not a police-type offense and, in my humble opinion, should not be brought to the attention of your local cops. They are not gonna roll lights-and-siren for ya.

Your best bet is to formally notify title-lender-escrow about not getting paid (you may need proof) and copy your Secretary of State or bureau that issues your notary license. Skip the Better Business Bureau unless you just want to go on the record with them. And, do your vetting better so you don’t get hooked up with just any old signing service that you never heard of.


Oye-ve Bobby - CA!

Who said anything about the cop shop lighting it up? The point of the post was to give an option. Not a direct order. Furthermore, the company that stiffed on payment most likely wouldn’t be in the same jurisdiction where the notary resided. The point of the post was to give an option if applicable.

Most title companies who have paid the 3rd party service are done with that transaction but should be notified that they stiffed the notary, hence run the 3rd parties out of business. As a seasoned notary, I don’t have these problems because I do vet, I do have my own set of rules and I only work for certain companies. Newbies are hungry and take chances. Just passing along info that I used when I was new to the business.


Yes, always BEST to vet the potential client (who is new to you) prior to providing your Professional Services as a Professional Signing Agent [PSA]. The information is immediately available on Notary Cafe within the GOLDMINE database!

It’s always wise to research & vet a new client prior to providing a definitive confirmation to them for your initial Signing Order for them. A great start of research would begin within the Notary Cafe forums Search Function.

A request has been submitted on numerous occasions [to BRIGHTEN the Magnifying Glass] over the years to the Notary Cafe Team Leads. That request has been reportedly passed onto the programmers of the site => that members find it difficult to locate the Search Function in order to access the wealth of info available within the database.

To be helpful, an image has been inserted [see below] to help members locate it the Search Function & to unlock the wisdom & knowledge of other members on the forums.

Accessing the database to locate info about potential clients has saved many of us an inordinate amount of time ‘chasing’ payments for Services professionally provided to potential non-payers . . .


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Even with a case #, wouldn’t there be a jurisdictional problem as rarely are the assignment companies even in the same state. I do BPOs for banks through 3rd party asset companies and had a local company who owed me thousands (me ad 3400 other agents throughout the country ewualing millions). I filed a police report, but ended up at the guys federal hearing with report in hand. I did get paid, but the company was local.

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That would depend on the individual’s state small claim requirements. Here in Florida we can file where the loss occurred which, in my case, is my home county (or the county where the signing occurred - I might even be able to stretch it to be my home county as my business took the loss and that location is my home). Small claims statutes vary by state.

This all, also, dependent upon the fact that the notary/signing agent didn’t sign an agreement in which they’ve agreed that the company’s state has jurisdiction - many agreements have that clause - most notaries don’t even notice it.

You’d need to file your complaint in the jurisdiction where the offense took place. Most of us are working a local region, my area covers 3 counties, where I would notify local law enforcement. Back when I was a LEO, if enough complaints came in on a single bad actor we’d investigate. Unfortunately your local PD/SD will usually refuse to investigate claiming this is a civil matter.

Filing a law suit costs you money that you may not be able to recover if the SS is out of state, You left with filing suit in federal court.

Some States have laws that will allow you to file a lien on the property. Once the homeowner has been notified about the lien someone usually pays up.

Another tactic is to notify your State’s agency who regulates Title Companies. In Texas this is the Department of Insurance. I’m working a situation where Title has blown me off, so I filed a complaint with the DoI. Now I wait.


Not to be hyper-technical, and regardless of the rampant jurisdictional issues, but the difference between an account-stated (civil law term for an overdue bill) action is intent, known in Latin as ‘mens rea’ (‘guilty mind’).

The same applies to a vehicle accident with injury or fatality (not counting DWI or similar aggravating circumstances); a driver may have caused the injury/death without intent, so they will not be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter.

Absent a pattern of behavior or evidence of intent, it remains a civil offense, and doesn’t rise to the level of criminality. Running from a taxicab or dining-and-dashing show would be evidence, If the signing service was doing this egregiously often, or performs some other overt act to evidence intent.

I’ve had clients that were substantially in arrears for >$25,000; I’ve had to sue or arbitrate, but I couldn’t claim a crime has been committed.

Counterparties such as attorneys and FINRA-governed broker/dealers may have rules of conduct that hold them to a higher standard for disciplinary action, but still do not subject them to criminal prosecution.

Even if the police were to take a report, the prosecutors would never move forward with a claim that clearly sits in the civil venue.

Hope this clarifies.



That was an extremely helpful discussion of the issue and I thank you for it. Well done.

As I stated, state laws vary … Here in FL theft of services is a misdemeanor…therefore a criminal matter, not just a civil matter

I have to respectfully disagree with you regarding the vehicle accident. A collision that results in a loss of life need not meet the intent threshold for criminal prosecution. In every State I’m aware of, if negligent behavior can be shown one can be charged with involuntary manslaughter. This is similar to criminal negligence that Engineers are subject to if they fail to follow generally accepted standards or do something that’s negligent.

When an entity has a pattern of not paying their debts it can rise to criminal behavior. However, if an entity fails to follow Generally Accepted Accounting Practices [GAAP], or they fail to meet their promised payment schedule, this moves into negligent practice that can result in criminal charges.

A repeated pattern of behavior isn’t required to show criminal intent, although it does make prosecution much easier. Intent is based on the fact that a reasonable time period has passed and the entity or actor refuses to pay for services rendered. A reasonable time period is usually established by State, Common, or Case Law. Uncompensated remuneration for services to the betterment of an individual or entity is by definition theft of services. When I was a financial crimes investigator I introduced multiple individuals to the corrections system, including jail, for theft of services. I’m referencing what’s happens in Texas, your mileage may vary.

Most Law Enforcement Agencies won’t take on low dollar cases due budgetary considerations or lack of investigators. This is why they label these case as a civil and not criminal.

Why put yourself through that? Stop working for bad companies and write it off!


No way stealing 150 dollars for services provided rises to a crime…simply stop working for bad companies and write it off!


I totally agree 100!

Yes, negligence can evidence mens rea, but it has to be intentional negligence and the individual must have reasonable expectation that their actions could result in the death of someone.

Until many states changed their laws, DWI did not even constitute intentional negligence; now, it’s an aggravating factor.

Blowing a stop sign, while a violation of motor vehicle code, might not evince the intent level, while doing 120 on a highway (something that may reasonably cause a fatal accident) might expose the individual to prosecution.

Failure to follow GAAP is not criminal, except for reporting in public companies; if it was, a majority of small business owners would be in prison.

You are correct that repetition is not necessary, but goes a long way in proving the perpetrator’s intent. There’s nothing that says first-time bank robbers can’t be arrested, convicted and jailed.
I have a good friend who was convicted of manslaughter because the crew his pool store had installing did not regularly construct shoring walls, and a collapse killed a worker.

Intent can be indicated by many things. More than a few federal money laundering and tax fraud cases turned on the perpetrators ‘shaping deposits’ (depositing an amount just short of the $10,000 limit) evidencing the individual’s knowledge of the law and intent to circumvent it.

The engineering example also requires intentional negligence (I started school as a mechanical engineering major); the engineer must have known better, and intentionally done (or omitted) something that a reasonable person could expect would cause grave hazard. That’s why successful prosecutions of engineers are relatively rare, and why getting a PEs (Professional Engineer’s) license is so hard. Note that certain structures require PE’s approval, and the PE’s stamp is attesting that certain standards of analyses, particularly those around safety, have been met.

TX Penal Code, Title 7, §31.04 qualifies theft of service as requiring “intent to avoid payment”, then lists a series of four (4) overt acts. Again, the overt act is required to evidence the perpetrator’s intent. The alternative, which must be indicated in the statute for certain acts, is strict liability, defined as when a defendant is liable for committing an action, regardless of what his/her intent or mental state was when committing the action

This is not to say that some of these agencies aren’t doing something that’s criminal by defrauding notaries regularly; there are bad actors in every industry.

One can demand that the police take a report for virtually any incident (although, I’d be careful to be respectful about it). A prosecutor will only pursue those cases where they can show all elements of the crime.

Sorry to be so longwinded. The purpose of this forum is to inform and educate. I try to do that to the best extent I can.

Hope this is useful to whoever takes the time to read it.



I’m not in the business of providing Pro Bono services for the write offs. If I have a large sum riding on a non-paying client you can bet I’ll use every means at my disposal to get paid.

While GAAP is not statutory and was originally intended for publicly traded companies, failing to follow GAAP has led to some rather dramatic conclusions. Failing to follow GAAP is what brought down FTX, which was not a publicly traded company. FTX’s not following GAAP is at the foundation of the current investigation. Enron, a publicly traded company, was brought down when Jeff Skilling failed to adhere to GAAP.

Under TPC 31.04 (b)(2) “the actor failed to make payment under a service agreement within 10 days after receiving notice demanding payment”;

It only takes 10 days to establish probable cause for theft of services. The engagement letter or email can serve as the functional equivalent to a service agreement. A signing service’s payment schedule establishes the time frame for payment. This is why it’s important to send demand letters if the agreed to payment date has passed.

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Mens Rea does not apply in civil matters. There are two standards of evidence/conviction. In a civil trial, you must prove preponderance of the evidence, which is basically it’s most likely than not. In other words, in light of the evidence and the law, do you believe that each element in the claim or counterclaim is more likely true than nit. Criminal is beyond a reasonable doubt, saying, the burden of proof of evidence supports guilt/innocence.

Also, when dealing with a breach of contract, it doesnt matter if they intended to pay you, they failed to pay you, making their actions, defacto, guilty.

For anyone saying to sue them in Federal Court. In order to file a claim in Federal Court, there needs to be several elements.

  1. Parties must reside in different states or one party must be domiciled in a foreign country.

  2. If the dispute has arisen due to a copyright or trademark dispute, regardless if both parties are in the same jurisdiction, Federal court has jurisfiction.

  3. Most importantly, ACTUAL loss of financial gains has to be more than $75,000.01 This figure is not combined with possible punitive damages and other fees such as legal fees.

Did you just watch Legally Blonde?

Look, we know the lender, the title company, the buyer, and the seller, depending on the project. Draft a letter addressed to all parties, explaining the non-payment issue. Then email a copy of this letter to the non-paying Notary service explaining that in 10 days this letter will be mailed to all parties if payment is not received ASAP. Trust me, payment will be made ASAP. No PD, no liens to file, just a letter.
This Title company looks at this as a possible lien against their policy. The lender is not happy, no one is happy about non-payments. You will get paid.