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Alleged Netanya fraudster arrested for posing as head of French presidential palace

Man suspected of faking position using special computer program to try to scam European diplomats, including ambassadors

Stamps representing European principalities, such as Monaco, found by police while searching the Netanya home of a scam artist who allegedly posed as the secretary general of the Elysée Palace, the French president's official residence, January 24, 2023. (Israel Police)
Stamps representing European principalities, such as Monaco, found by police while searching the Netanya home of a scam artist who allegedly posed as the secretary general of the Elysée Palace, the French president's official residence, January 24, 2023. (Israel Police)

Police on Monday arrested a man from the coastal city of Netanya suspected of masquerading as the secretary general of the French president’s official residence in order to scam top European diplomats.

Police said they started investigating two months ago after receiving information from French police that the man, in his 40s, was posing as the chief administrator of the Elysée Palace.

The man is suspected of trying to scam several European envoys, including ambassadors, through the use of a special computer program. No further details were given.

Authorities detained the man on Monday for questioning over the matter.

In a search of the man’s house, police said, they found stamps representing European principalities, which they suspect were used in the man’s alleged scheme.

This is not the first time Israeli and French authorities have cooperated in recent years on a suspected fraud case.

In this March 28, 2016 file photo, Gilbert Chikli, 50, and his wife Shirly Chikli, 31, pose for a photo at their home in Ashdod, Israel. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)

In August, police arrested three people suspected of conducting a money-laundering service on behalf of criminals in France who defrauded the French government out of millions of euros.

In 2020, a Paris court sentenced Franco-Israelis Gilbert Chikli and Anthony Lasarevitsch to several years in prison for their role in a bizarre moneymaking scam that involved impersonating the identity of France’s then-defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to dupe the rich and famous, sometimes using a silicone mask with his likeness.

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