It's so interesting human perception. How we continually see what we want to see.
I remember it being indicated at different points in the thread that the concept of fraudulence had nothing to do with Independent organisations whose instructors actually had training in the art from a recognised instructor who had lineage that led back to the Founder of the art at some point. Yet many continue to rehash the subject (not saying that Linda's post is one of these - its just an observation I made about some posts).
It is one thing to award oneself rank in an organisation that one has formed and has trained to a certain degree of proficiency where one's knowledge and skill can support any challenge to that rank. It is quite another to train in one martial art and assume rank in another - this is what we are referring to as fraudulent behaviour e.g. a Jujutsuka assuming 10th Dan in Aikido because he saw some video tapes and can mix what he saw with his Jujutsu curriculum and fool some folks who can't tell the difference.
The case of Nariyama Shihan quoted by Linda could apply to every other head of every non-Aikikai style (since each successive Doshu is the head there) in existence and the members who carried on after the death of the Founders of these particular styles (e.g. the first successors of G. Shioda, K. Tohei, M. Saito, M. Mochizuki etc.). These people, if not ranked to a certain level commensurate with being the head of the style by the same style's Founder by the time of that Founder's death, will have no one qualified enough to rank them later on anyway. At this point the decision may be made by some sort of legal entity (an association or federation that represents the style) that takes the responsibility of making the decision, or the person may just assume the rank after having progressed over a certain period of time commensurate with the next upward move in grade. What would have happened to the first Aikikai Doshu if Ueshiba M. had passed away at a time when the former was only at Ikkyu level and not yet ready to assume the technical reigns of the organisation? When Tomiki died, Nariyama was 7th Dan (at least in my limited knowledge) and left with the responsibility of carrying on the Shodokan system afaik. Again there was no one higher in rank to grade him, but as far as I see, those who profess to be heads of certain styles tend to have a certain rank as well (no one pays attention to a Shodan who decides to form his own new style correct?), as such Nariyama was placed in a position where 8th Dan was assumed, to this date it is the highest Dan ranking one can attain in Shodokan (out of respect for Tomiki Sensei (9th Dan) as well I have been told).
Assuming rank that can be supported by one's skill and kowledge in the art is one thing, assuming rank that one has not training to support is quite something else.
Just my thoughts.