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A scam of African works of art usurps the name of Unesco – Jeune Afrique

The UNESCO logo at the entrance of its Paris headquarters, October 17, 2016.

The UNESCO logo at the entrance of its Paris headquarters, October 17, 2016. © Francois Mori / AP / Sipa

Twenty victims lost between a few thousand and 800,000 euros by thinking of buying African works whose authenticity or export were fraudulently "validated" by Unesco.


Faced with the increase in scams and illicit trafficking in cultural goods from Africa, Unesco calls for "the highest vigilance". In a long press release to appear this week and to which Young Africa has had access, the United Nations warns of a new scam system that appeared last year.

Each time, the scenario and the profile of the victims are similar. “The scammer is aimed at a person who has family or professional links with West Africa or Central Africa, specifies Cédric Bourgeois who heads the Unesco investigation office in charge of fraud cases and corruption. The victim does not necessarily have African origins, he may be European without family ties to the continent. The crook offers him art objects, often statuettes, specifying their origin, and sometimes even the name of the chief of the village where they would have come from. Then, the name of Unesco is advanced, fraudulently, to certify the sale and certify that the cultural goods are authentic or can be exported. The victim sends the money … and never receives the works. "

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