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Fraudulent Genealogy

by Lisa South, Certified Genealogist

There are many reasons that people create fraudulent genealogies:

1. Family members that are trying to hide something or trying to impress someone by making the family history a little more impressive. These stories are then innocently passed down by future generations of family members.

2. Amateur genealogists who have limited genealogical or historical skills and accept others' work without any additional research. Sometimes an amateur is anxious to connect to someone "important" and forces a connection that really is not there.

3. Professional genealogists who are not thorough enough with their research or are not up-to-date "genealogically".

4. A professional crook who's trying to perpetrate a scam. One of the best known in the genealogical world is Gustave Anjou. He lived from 1863-1942 and contaminated as many as 2000 lines. Some of the others that have been identified are Charles H. Browning, Orra E. Monnette, C.A. Hoppin, Frederick A. Virkus, Horatio Gates Somerby and there are others.

How can you protect ourselves against fraud? First you need to make sure that you do not add to the problem. Your research should be thorough and well sourced. Use others' work as a guide, but check the information in the original sources whenever you are able and find out as much as possible about the author/submitter and his/her genealogical background and research methods...

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