Let's not get too Daily Mail about all this.
Why anyone would do it could be quite simply down to money. Send in a report to head office about an impoverished group of devoted ladies who want to set up a nunnery and if you know the ropes there will be cash and title deeds forthcoming. You don't need to build anything or recruit anyone apart from writing a list of names and what holy deeds they have been up to.
I think you are underestimating Head Office. Monastic orders were very, very businesslike. They were after all businesses. In fact the most successful businesses of their day. There is no way in the world this scam would fly. It would however fly if it was Head Office
working the scam. The drill is fairly standard and covered in full in our forthcoming book
1. You wish to make some money from the pilgrimage trade for your new (twelfth century) monastery in Barking, Essex.
2. You compose an array of documents that show it was founded back in the eighth century, was famous for this and that, had connections with various famous people eg St Dunstan etc etc
3. Pilgrims flock, monastery waxes.
4. Now you are an important monastery with an impressive pedigree.
5. So you can come up with more documents showing you were the first nunnery in England and claim seniority over all the other nunneries in England who didn't come up with the same idea.
6. More pilgrims come, more nuns apply, more waxing takes place.