Fraud allegation levied

The administrators of the Micronations and Royal Houses Facebook group have accused another micronationalist of potentially defrauding the community in order to gain fame and money.

Yaroslav Mar and Christian of Emden-Holstein allege that Anastasia von Elphberg, engaged in deceitful conduct, which included a history of making unverifiable claims, the use of sockpuppets, and the creation of a fictional non-governmental organization (NGO) to defraud sponsors of MicroCon.

Their allegations, outlined herein, have not been proven in a court of law.

The use of unverifiable claims and sockpuppets are rooted in the simulationist culture and history of Elphberg’s micronation, Ruritania, where she also played the character, Georg von Strofzia, who acted as foreign minister until his “death” last year.

Such use of multiple characters by one “flesh and blood” participant in a simulationist micronation is not unusual, nor is the development of a backstory for each character that may quote fictional events and achievements. Such practice became widely adopted by the Micras community in the late 2000s as the wider micronational population dwindled, making micronations less dynamic. Where used, the practice primarily supports local cultural and historical simulation to better mimic the workings of a real country. When the practice is not disclosed upfront, it has been interpreted as an indicator of deception by micronationalists, both present and past, including  simulationists.

While the accusers acknowledged Ruritania’s simulationist roots and the acceptable or tolerable use, to a degree, of fictional achievements and sockpuppetry, they suggested that Strofzia’s sockpuppet status was purposefully withheld by Elphberg over the course of years. That caused members of the micronational community to believe that Strofzia was a real person.

Months before last year’s MicroCon conference, a physical meeting of micronationalists, which Strofzia was expected by some to attend, Elphberg informed the community that he died. That Strofzia was not widely known as a sockpuppet led to an outpouring of condolences from micronationalists, it was alleged. “[She had] the audacity to receive condolences for the faked death of a person who never existed,” read the accusers’ statement, suggesting that it was an indicator of her deceitful nature.

One micronationalist, with the screen name”Hrm Richard”, suggested that the accusers were one of only a few individuals who didn’t know that Strofzia was a sockpuppet. “I am unaware of anyone … that did not know Georg was, effectively the name for an email address. … [His death] was preceded by weeks of discussions about how [Ruritania] would no longer be using the pseudonym for whomever was responding to emails that month,” he said, suggesting that Strofzia’s sockpuppet status was common fact within Ruritania’s circle of micronations.

Elphberg’s announcement of the OMAP (supplied).

Leading up to MicroCon, in which she acted as organizer and host, Elphberg participated in the founding of the Organization of Micronations and Alternative Politics (OMAP), which she described as a YAMO meant to add believability to sponsorship letters for the event. The seriousness with which OMAP was to be taken was unclear as the use of “YAMO” generally indicates a tongue-in-cheek reference to the organization being useless; however, the accusers allege that it was to be considered an NGO, a much more serious international organization, especially in non-simulationist realms.

The creation of OMAP, the accusers allege, was “for the sake of defrauding potential sponsors of MicroCon.” Elphberg’s stated intent to use OMAP to add believability to the letters to convince sponsors to fund MicroCon is a central pillar of the allegation. That said, there is no evidence that Elphberg, in fact, crafted or sent any such sponsorship letters, with or without the OMAP name, or ever asked for money by invoking the name.

Christian acknowledged that there was no evidence of a successful fraud perpetrated by Elphberg; however, for him, the implication of her OMAP announcement was clear. “What I see in the language of her post and her past behaviour of faking citizens and their fictional deaths is disturbing behaviour which makes use feel obliged to protect the members of this group before they communicate with her or her representatives,” he said. He suggested that the letters, if sent, would have attempted to raise money for MicroCon would have reflected poorly on the wider micronational community when the sponsor learned that OMAP was not a real NGO.

Mars agreed. “We don’t claim [that] she did defraud sponsors. She did however tell the participants to present themselves as members of a fictional organization which in our opinion accounts for an attempt at doing so.”

The allegations were supported by Donald Garcia-Dwyer. “To create an organization where you’ll collect additional funds in order to be ‘believable’ is pretty fraudulent,” he said.

Their interpretation of Elphberg’s actions was, however, not supported by all.

“I am not entirely clear I understand what the problem is,” said Will Sörgel, who throughout the discussion maintained his belief that the allegation was unsupported. “You have not clarified who these sponsors are, if she [was] successful, and if she did in fact gain sponsors.”

For “Hrm Richard”, both accusers lacked standing. “I don’t recall either of you being at MicroCon but as someone who attended I assure – “fraudsters” don’t spend a great deal of their own money so others don’t have to,” he charged. “[Elphberg used] her own money to reduce or eliminate fees for the attendees.”

While a serious discussion regarding the accuracy of the allegations ensued, that discussion at times was marked by tongue-in-cheek and direct insults directed between the participants. The resulting strained personal relationships may end up being the biggest fallout of the allegations, which themselves appear unlikely to ever be tested in a court of law.

Fraud allegation levied

One thought on “Fraud allegation levied

  1. Mr. Sinclair,

    I am responding to the article via ‘comment’ since I couldn’t find a more suitable way to contact you. I must admit that I am uncomfortable with the headline of this article. We did not levy fraud allegations unless you consider orchestrating a fictional person’s death as fraud.

    The discussion of the bizarre and problematic wording of her post planning to use a fake organization to make it seem ‘more believable’ to sponsors was merely an example of her shady behavior, for the lack of better words. It wasn’t intended as an accusation of defrauding sponsors or actually sending such letters. It was intended to show her history of strange behavior.

    Queen Anastasia is an extremely difficult personality and one of the least transparent people I’ve ever encountered in the microsphere. However, I do not necessarily think she sent such letters to ‘defraud’ sponsors for her own personal gain,if she sent any such letters at all. That wasn’t the point. It has been made clear that she spent some of her own money in order to make that conference a success. To reiterate, I myself do not believe that she created a fictional organization to benefit herself financially or to commit any crime. However, I do believe that the wording of her post shows her willingness to misrepresent herself and her kingdom and even do so by straddling ethical fences-faking organizations and deaths of fictional people. For me, that should be taken into consideration when someone hosts an event which seemingly represents our ‘world’ as a whole.

    As for the ‘Georg’ issue, I don’t think anyone has any problem with simulationist countries using ‘sockpuppets’ to add to activity and flair but I do think a weird ethical line is crossed when fictional characters are killed off-especially when those characters are presented as real, living and breathing human beings. At no point was I aware that ‘Georg’ didn’t exist. When I first met this character, I was in exile following a successful coup. ‘Georg’ expressed interest in my plight and thought it would be beneficial to travel to Georgia to meet with his queen (Anastasia) to further discuss the situation, etc. Having a fictional person invite you to travel is bizarre. Had I traveled to Georgia to meet and discover that the person I had been speaking to never existed, I would have been mortified. Its deceptive and manipulative behavior. I started in the microsphere in my early teens and therefore I know many people in our community are young and impressionable. I think its important to call out things like this when you administer a group of over 3000 people. Its a lesson not to trust people you ‘meet’ on the internet. Furthermore, not only did she kill of her character, she admonished those who questioned the incident. She and her daughters insisted that ‘Georg’ was a real living human being and a longterm family friend. That is sick and twisted and to be frank, I found it extremely disturbing when I found out for certain that he didn’t exist.

    The point of the matter wasn’t accusing her of committing any crimes which I thought we had made abundantly clear in the discussion, it was that she seems to be an unstable and manipulative person who can’t be trusted and for all the Queen Victoria-esque contrived morality in her persona, shes a person whose ethics are certainly skewed and a person unwilling to be questioned, who can’t bother to have a discussion and who considers herself to be without fault. She faked someones death, used it to manipulate relationships and garner sympathy and then discussed unethical ways to source sponsors for an event she was hosting not for financial gain but to make herself seem grander and more regal. I don’t think shes a fraudster, I think she has the tendencies of a sociopath and therefore we warned other micronationalists about her and presented a laundry list of her cumulative actions: superficial charm, insincerity, unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations, poor judgement, and lack of remorse and shame (all defined characteristics of a sociopath). She won’t take your money but I certainly wouldn’t want to travel to meet her face to face in her home upon receiving an invitation from a fictional character.

    Apologies for the length of the message, I am suffering from the flu and drowsy from the medicine. A more appropriate headline would be “Queen Anastasia Accused of Being Unethical, Delusional Creep Who Fakes Deaths For Sympathy”.

    P.S. We invited her to speak with us about it and clear up the sponsor letter issue in total. All she had to do was post the actual letter format sent to sponsors to clear that up. An apology for faking a death and claiming he was a real person would also be in order but…I can guarantee that will never happen.



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