Police in Oslo, Norway, have been working with the US-based FBI for nearly a year, according to the New York Times. The joint investigation is looking to turn up information on two forged nominations which were submitted for the Nobel Prize.
Both of the forged documents purportedly nominated Donald Trump for the prestigious, international award.
The nomination was fraudulently submitted under another person’s name.
According to The New York Times, the first fraudulent nomination was received by the Nobel Foundation during last year’s nominating period. Officials contacted the Oslo Police about the apparent fraud. The Norwegian authorities then reached out the FBI.
The forged nomination was submitted under another person’s name. When staff working for the Nobel Foundation tried to contact the supposed Trump-nominator to verify the submission, the person flatly denied submitting Trump’s name. Officials have not released the identity of the person whose name was used to perpetuate the fraud.
A second forged nomination was received by the Nobel Foundation again during this year’s nominating period. As happened last year, the person who is represented as the nominee on the submission told the committee they did not submit Trump’s name.
What is the Nobel Prize?
The Nobel Prize is a long-standing, international award, which is given to only a small handful of people each year. The award was created by Sir Alfred Nobel before his death in 1896. The first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901, five years after Nobel’s death.
Nobel Prizes were designed to recognize the most outstanding men and women in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Literature, physiology or medicine, and peace. It was Nobel’s wish that the awards would benefit “those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.”
Each Nobel Prize includes a diploma, a gold medal and a cash award. The medal is 18 karat, green-gold plated, with 24 karats (pure) gold. Each medal contains approximately 175 grams of gold. The cash prize is valued at 8 million SEK, or $1.1 million American dollars.
Is it a crime to defraud the Nobel Prize Foundation?
As described in greater detail here, the process for submitting a nomination for a Nobel Prize is very strict. People who are allowed to nominate someone to receive the award include members of parliament or government, former laureates and a select group of college professors who meet certain conditions set by the foundation. (More about that here.)
In order to submit a false application to the Nobel Foundation, a fraudster would need to impersonate either a government official or a highly-acclaimed and credentialed professional. Under US law, impersonating an officer or employee of the government is punishable by up to three years in prison.
It is also a crime to use the United States Postal Service to commit fraud. According to FindLaw, the term fraud includes any scheme:
- To obtain money or property under false pretenses; or
- To sell, distribute, exchange, supply, or use counterfeits.
Regardless of who wrote or mailed the forged submission, it falls under the category of false pretenses and distributing a counterfeit document.
There’s also the potential to pursue charges of identity theft. If the fraudster had access to confidential information about the person they were impersonating, that could, potentially, open up an entirely different set of charges.
Whether or not prosecution would fall to the US or the Norwegian authorities is also uncertain.
Who would forge a Nobel Prize nomination on behalf of Donald Trump?
As the Norwegian and US authorities examine evidence pertaining to the fraudulent submission, they will no doubt be looking for key markers to aid in identifying the crook. No doubt patterns will emerge that will provide clues about the character and motives of the sender. Sometimes specific words or phrases can provide investigators with enough evidence to ID a suspect.
Unless the sender took extreme care to wipe all traces of DNA evidence from the submission before mailing, there is sure to be at least some trace physical evidence. Other clues the police would look at include the location of the sender, as well as the time and date the submission was mailed. As The New York Times reports here, the fact that Norwegian prosecutors are working with the FBI suggests that the sender was based in the United States.
Remember when Donald Trump forged his doctor’s note?
We know that Donald Trump has been a fraudster his whole life. He is well-known for pretending to be other people, whether it’s during a telephone call to the press, in an email purportedly written by his son, or a formal letter, supposedly written by his doctor. My point is, if Trump were a very good impersonator of other people, we would not know these things – but he’s not. (Have you read his doctor’s note?)
We haven’t seen this year’s fraudulent submission, but those who have seen it say it is “an obvious forgery.”
That leaves us to speculate on what it was that first alerted them to the obvious fraud. Were there misspelled words? Did the writer repeat over and over again that “Donald Trump is the greatest president in the history of the world” or maybe “the history of the universe” even?
Whoever the sender is, it’s safe to assume that with law enforcement in two countries, on two separate continents working to identify the fraudster, we’ll be finding out sooner rather than later.