X

Scammers Use Silicone Mask to Impersonate French Minister, Swindle $90 Million

In what has been described as one of the most daring rackets in history, one or more individuals used a silicone mask to impersonate France’s minister of defense, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and scam an estimated €80 million ($90 million) from wealthy victims.

Jean-Yves Le Drian served as France’s defense minister from 2012 to 2017, and is currently the country’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs. He is an important political figure in his homeland, but also a relatively obscure one, which is why investigators believe he was chosen as the target of one of the boldest identity thefts in recorded history. One or more scammers used a custom silicone mask and a cleverly decorated office to fool various members of government and wealthy businessman into thinking that they were being contacted by Mr. Le Drian who requested financial help to pay the ransoms of journalists captured by Islamists in the Middle East. Some of the victims saw through the ruse, but many complied and donated millions.

The scam was simple yet pretty well thought out. Scammers would pose as a member of Le Drian’s inner circle and contact both french and foreign businessmen to arrange a conversation with the esteemed “minister”. In the beginning, the conversations were carried out over a phone, with the scammer impersonating the French minister reproducing Le Drian’s voice almost to perfection.  But, then, in order to make the  whole thing even more believable, they switched to video calls via Skype.

Read More »