A member of a gang of Israeli con artists disguised himself as the French Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, to defraud French private security companies of large sums of money.
France has asked Israel to help locate and detain suspects of the sophisticated robbery which involved conducting covert security operations with French security firms.
Israeli sources reported that the con artists made an exact replica of the French defence minister’s office and used makeup to pose as the minister himself before soliciting millions of euros for aid in fictitious “covert operations”.
No arrests have been reported thus far but Ynet News said that the investigation has revealed that the thieves began their scam several months ago. The gang apparently set up an exact replica of Le Drian’s office at an unknown location in Israel, including matching furniture, the flag of the republic, pictures of the president of France and the other characteristic features of his office.
One suspect even disguised himself as Le Drian, possibly with the services of a makeup expert.
The suspect then proceeded to pose as Le Drian and hold video conferences with several French security companies, asking for urgent financial assistance in conducting “security operations” such as hostage rescues from Daesh, arms acquisitions and other covert operations.
The bold plot, which required misleading highly experienced security officials, has surprised many. Private security contractors were duped into thinking the operation was genuine and transferred tens of millions of euro to the con men.
By the time French authorities were alerted to what was happening and attempted to track the criminals, the gang had utilised electronic security measures to conceal their location and identities.
After discovering that the gang was operating in Israel, France submitted an official request to Israeli authorities seeking their assistance in locating and detaining the suspects. Following the request, a special team has been established within Israel Police and the Lahav 433 International Crimes unit, reported Ynet News.
Israeli officials have avoided publically addressing the matter, possibly in an attempt to avoid public embarrassment to Israel-French relations. French officials are reportedly seeking extradition of the suspects upon their detention.