WEALTHY Americans were duped by two conmen into buying forged manorial

titles that promised such exclusive rights as a priority on the Queen's

''social list'', a court heard yesterday.

Another totally fictitious royal benefit offered to a holder of one

particular Domesday Book lordship of the manor was the opportunity to

ride in the 18th carriage of the Queen Mother's birthday procession.

Southwark Crown Court was told that #85,000 was paid into overseas

bank accounts by unsuspecting buyers. The biggest losers were Florida

couple Ron and Peggy Berle, who forked out more than $63,000 for a

number of titles they had bought as an investment for their Down's

syndrome child.

Mr Stephen Waine, prosecuting, said travel company director Stefanos

Kollakis and co-conspirator Martin Lewis went to great lengths to

convince their victims the transactions were genuine.

The various layers of deception they used included false names and

passports, bogus companies -- one with a Latin motto meaning ''virtue is

the way'' -- a non-existent set-up called the Institution of Heraldic

Affairs, and a firm of solicitors.

Kollakis, 26, of Hillcroft Crescent, Ealing, west London, and Lewis,

also 26, of Woodmanstone Road, Carshalton Beeches, Surrey, pleaded

guilty to a conspiracy to commit forgery.

The charge detailed the various false documents drawn up by the pair.

They included conveyances of honorary titles, certificates and histories

for them, sale guarantees of purchases, coats of arms, and letters from

the National Office of Heraldry.

Mr Waine said: ''It was a simple scheme, in the sense that it worked

on the basis that there are in England titles that can be bought and

sold and that there are people outside England who don't have such

titles but who have the money to buy them.''

He said 13,000 lordship of the manor titles existed altogether, most

dating back to 1086 and listed in the Domesday Book.

The barrister said the two swindlers even ''resurrected'' an ancient

process called sub-infudation, a system of splitting and increasing the

number of titles available which was actually outlawed in 1290.

Among titles the two claimed they had the right to sell were the

lordships of Bodardle in Cornwall; Godington, Oxfordshire; Glodwick,

Lancashire; Ellesmere, Shropshire, and Breckenthwaite in Cumbria.

Among the most exciting sweeteners -- sold in a title to American

attorney Jeffrey Schnepper -- were promises to be given priority on

''Her Majesty the Queen's social list'', and the opportunity of

attending various royal functions.

In addition, he was told he could look forward to the right to attire

himself with ''heraldic robes of nobility''.

Another promised he could occupy the 18th carriage in the Queen

Mother's birthday celebration procession.

The two men advertised the titles in a variety of publications,

including the Wall Street Journal, magazines called Her Majesty and

Barons, and The Economist. They frequently flew abroad on Concorde to

meet potential victims and entertain them over lunch.

Mr Waine said the two men's activities were finally brought to a halt

when Dubhai journalist Lyn Jeffs and her husband Paul answered one of

their advertisements in an English speaking newspaper.

Mrs Jeffs realised the material they received was ''sham'' and decided

she could be on to a good story. She contacted Kollakis, who later flew

out to see her. The couple strung him along as they were given further

details about the Lordship of Hesketh, priced at more than #12,000.

At about the same time, Dr Simpson became suspicious with what he had

bought and after vainly demanding his money back, tracked Kollakis to

his home.

Dr Simpson grabbed Kollakis's passport but, while he brandished it

outside the house, police arrived amid accusations that he was guilty of


Mr Waine added Lewis was jailed for 12 months at Peterborough Crown

Court in 1993 after being found guilty of obtaining false passports with

a view to selling them to Hong Kong businessmen.

Judge Geoffrey Levy QC then adjourned sentencing until May 19 so

social inquiry reports could be prepared and police could make further

inquiries into the men's assets and the question of compensation. Their

bail was continued.

Outside court, Detective Sergeant Paul Phillipson confirmed that

Kollakis was the nephew of shipping magnate Lou Kollakis, who has been

described as one of the most powerful and secretive tycoons in the

world, with a fortune worth up to #250m.