UNESCO says logo being used illegally for arts trafficking

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FILE – In this Oct.31 2017 file photo, the logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is seen during the 39th session of the General Conference at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. 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. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

PARIS (AP) — The United Nations’ cultural agency has warned that its name and logo are being illegally emblazoned on false documents to facilitate illicit trafficking in African cultural property.

UNESCO urged “vigilance” Wednesday 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 Paris-based 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.

Agency 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.

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