Ethiopian Crown in Exile Tackles Widespread Global Fraud and Forgery in the Illegal “Trade” in Royal Orders and Decorations

January 5, 2016

Analysis. Zahedi Center Staff. The Ethiopian Crown Council in exile has initiated a legal and publicity campaign to attempt to eliminate the illegal trade in forged and fake Imperial orders and honors, recognizing that the trade — which is believed to be worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps millions, per year — goes well beyond the Ethiopian honors system.

The Council issued a statement on December 30, 2016, noted:

The Crown Council of Ethiopia has been presented with incontrovertible evidence that several persons in the US and Europe have been illegally and fraudulently raising funds using the name of the Ethiopian Crown and its charities, offering the sale of ranks, or-ders, and decorations which are within the Crown’s gift alone, and for which the Crown holds historical copyright.

Supporters of the Crown are urged to only communicate with the Crown Council directly, or via its recognized charitable body, The International Society for the Imperial Ethiopian Orders (registered as The International Society for the Star of Ethiopia), a US-registered [501(c)3] charitable foundation.

The individuals concerned have purveyed illegal grants of Orders in exchange for payment, and these illegally-bestowed Orders may not be worn, nor the ranks, privileges, and post-nominals used. All legally-awarded recognitions by the Crown Council are recorded in the Crown’s Official Registry, maintained by the Council.

Anyone who is concerned that he or she may have been the subject of fraud in regard to the issuance of a Crown honor should contact the Crown Council at: PO Box 320608, Alexandria, Virginia 22320, USA, or via email to: Anyone who feels that he or she has been the subject of such fraud should also attempt to retrieve all details of correspondence, bank transfers, and the like with the criminals involved, and copies of any such documentation should be sent to the Crown Council.

The illegal sale of Crown honors diminishes the prestige of recognitions lawfully given to those who have faithfully and diligently served the community. Moreover, those who have innocently acquired fraudulently-dispensed honors in exchange for what they have felt were donations to the charitable works of the Crown have, unfortunately, seen their funds go only to enrich those people who have dispensed the fake honors. The Crown and its charities are the poorer for this theft of funds which were intended to help (in particular) Ethiopia, Ethiopians, and Africans, including the Water Initiative for Africa (WIA), the main charity of the President of the Crown Council, HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie.

Those claiming to represent the Crown Council have often used non-existent titles such as “Grand Chancellor”, have forged the signature of HIH Prince Ermias on many of the documents, and have forged the Seal of the Council.

Click here to see the original PDF statement from the Crown Council.

Research by the Zahedi Center showed that fraud for financial and social gain was being undertaken through the leadership of several key individuals in the US, UK, Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere, with sponsors of such initiatives spuriously claiming authority from regnant or non-regnant royal and imperial houses. and then demanding payment for “passage fees” into the royal orders, often with the understanding that the fees were donations to royal charities. As well, an industry has emerged to manufacture fake copies of the royal and imperial orders and decorations, quite apart from the documentation which often has digitally forged signatures and forged seals of key royal figures.

Since issuing the statement, the Ethiopian Crown Council has received numerous queries from individuals who wished to check the validity of their decorations, many of which were, indeed, fake.

A spokesman for the Ethiopian Crown Council noted: “It is heartbreaking to see how much donation funding has been siphoned off to criminals, funding which could have been helping charitable initiatives, such as our Water Initiative for Africa. Moreover, the reality is that this kind of fraud diminishes the value and prestige of honors given to individuals for genuine service to humanity, quite apart from the blatant identity theft through the use of the signatures and names of genuine individuals, such as the President of the Crown Council. We know now that this identity theft and fraud is being perpetrated against many royal houses around the world.”

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