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.

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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

The Week That Was – Around the Blogosphere

The Coprieta Standard highlights some of the news stories from our fellow micronational news media services around the Blogosphere in the past week.

Vol. 1 Ed. 7

February 1 to 7, 2015

  • Despite two-thirds of its population considering themselves Christian, Sandus is failing to identify with this religious majority, according to a report published in Sacerdotium. The report, authored by Adam von Friedeck, the micronation’s Liaison for Religious Minorities and Religious Diversity Interests, noted that Sandus revolves largely around Buddhist philosophy and as a result, “Christianity has had no influence on our holidays or philosophy as officially described by the State.”
  • The Namayan News Agency reported that Namayan had successfully absorbed the Republic of Daikoku as an autonomous republic on February 1, marking a notable consolidation of the Philippine Sector. “I think it is one step towards unity in Philippine micronationalism. Let us be united in fostering a better micronational community ….,” said Namayan Prime Minister Timothy Laranang.
  • After transforming Lostisland into a dictatorship on New Year’s Eve, President Yaroslav Mar fulfilled his commitment to allow the Prime Minister to be democratically elected this month. The Lostislandic Checkpoint published the results of the election on February 4, in which former Prime Minister Deniz Tezcan, who resigned from the office in May 2013 amid civic unrest, regained the post with a healthy 54.5% of the popular vote.
The Week That Was – Around the Blogosphere

The Week That Was – Around the Blogosphere

The Coprieta Standard highlights some of the news stories from our fellow micronational news media services around the Blogosphere in the past week.

Vol. 1 Ed. 2

December 28, 2014 to January 3, 2015

  • The second week of voting in St. Charlie’s 2015 General Election has concluded, with the final results to be declared on January 5. Results so far indicate a neck-and-neck race between the New Socialist Party and the National Party, according to reports by the Atlantis Post. The nail-biter of a race has been made all the more intense by the suspension of the Tor Pendente ballot due to suspected vote tampering.
  • The Imperial Voice reported that Ashukovo is embarking on the creation of a fully-functioning stock market, which it described as a micronational first. The report speculates that the market will be a purely online system that is updated on a daily basis. We agree with the Imperial Voice that this is a “big step forward” for the Ashukov economy; however, we’d like to point out that there have been many successful online stock exchanges in micronationalism since 2000, so this isn’t quite the “first”. The Standardised Currency and Unified Economy runs on software that combines banking and stock market functions, for example.
  • It wouldn’t be an exciting New Year without something shocking happening in micronationalism and it seems that Lostisland has undertaken that role this year. The micronation, which has existed since 2008, found itself transformed into a dictatorship on New Year’s Eve as President Yaroslav Mar abolished the constitution and political parties while declaring himself the “Life President”. Mar has nonetheless committed to allowing the Prime Minister to be democratically elected next month, according to the Lostislandic Checkpoint report on the matter.

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The Week That Was – Around the Blogosphere