The U.N.’s cultural agency UNESCO has warned that its name and logo are being illegally emblazoned on false documents to facilitate illicit trafficking in African cultural property.
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The Paris-based agency issued the warning Wednesday, urging “vigilance” after it received numerous reports of such fraud, and instances where its name was being used to certify the monetary value of collections. The traffickers sometimes used fake business cards with actual names of officials from the agency, it said.
UNESCO said the majority of the fraud victims are in France, have links to French-speaking African nations and believe themselves to be familiar with local practices.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said “the illicit trafficking in cultural properties is a lucrative global scourge in most cases connected to other forms of organized crime, including the funding of terrorism.”
UNESCO says it is considering legal action.
The Associated Press contributed to this article