By Stewart Payne
A conman assumed the identities of millionaire businessmen whose names
he took from magazine rich lists then applied for credit cards in
Youssef Babbou, 49, milked their bank accounts and travelled the
world, staying in luxury hotels, hiring expensive cars, buying Rolex
watches, diamonds from De Beers and spending =A310,000 in Harrods.
Among the identities he assumed were those of Dennis Bakke, an author
and golfing partner of former President Bill Clinton; the boss of a
chain of Las Vegas casinos; and an inventor working on the space
He was arrested in Paris, where he was found to have 17 driving
licences in the names of rich Americans and 25 false identities. He
served four months for fraud in France and spent six months awaiting
extradition to England.
Yesterday he pleaded guilty at Croydon Crown Court to obtaining and
attempting to obtain property by deception and obtaining services by
The court heard that Babbou, a Tunisian, had carried out frauds in
America and had served a sentence in Italy for credit card fraud.
Brendan Morris, prosecuting, said his method was always the same. He
would ring an American Express call centre in the US to report the
loss of a card.
"As a result of being able to provide a certain amount of information,
the loser can then specify a location where a replacement card can be
provided," he said. "In these cases it was in London."
Jailing Babbou for four years, Judge Stephen Waller said the case did
not reflect "the whole criminality" but was sufficient for him to pass
sentence. He ordered that Babbou be deported on his release.
Det Insp Roy West said after the case that he believed Babbou had
spent more than =A3500,000 in only five months.
=A9 Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2006.
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