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Come collaborate and share your knowledge of spurious pedigrees. Add links; add profiles; identify wishful thinking, leaps of fancy, mistakes since corrected but still in circulation ... and outright scams.

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...

Common bogus pedigrees that keep appearing in Geni

This is not a complete list by any means of bogus pedigrees that keep showing up in Geni, but it is a start and the hope is that people will add to it as they discover such pedigrees.

Let me preface this list by pointing out that many of the recurrent offenders seem to have been propagated by errors that crept into web trees a while back that keep getting recopied into Geni. So all it takes is an uncritical copy of a web tree to make them happen all over again.

1. John Wells, of Ringstead, Northampton, seems to wind up married to "Lady" Jennet Lawtie, of East Riding of Yorkshire. This is incorrect. According to the Parish Register of Howden, Jennet Lawtie was born and died in the Howden Parish. She indeed married a John Wells, but it was a local John Wells, of Cotnes, not the noble John Wells of Ringstead.

2. The ancestry of would-be German immigrant Johannes Jacob Peter Batdorf is full of bogus names, like "Miles Terry Batdorf" and "Eric Gordon Batdorf". It appears that somebody somewhere filled in a tree that was missing given names with names of their own invention, and this was propagated. This also seemingly affected families who married into the Batdorfs, like the Anspach family. In some cases it is more challenging to tell that a name has been invented; Geni still contains a few names that could go either way, like "Tabitha Anna".

3. All Taylors are not related to President Zachary Taylor. There were at least half-a-dozen different Taylor families that emigrated to Virginia, and a number also that emigrated elsewhere in the New World. These English families tended to use similar names for their children, and many records were lost, so be especially cautious merging similar-appearing Taylors in Virginia.