How a scammer used a silicone mask to bilk millions from the Aga Khan

Reported by CBC on March 13, 2020

Gilbert Chikli was sentenced on Wednesday for a scheme involving a silicone mask and the impersonation of the former French defence minister. He stole over 50 million Euros in total from a group of victims that included the Aga Khan. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Gilbert Chikli was one of six men sentenced on Wednesday for a scheme in which he used a silicone mask to impersonate a former French defence minister.

Chikli was already well-known in France for his previous scams. But this most recent plot involved him stealing a total of over 50 million euros (over $77 million Cdn) from a group of victims that included the Aga Khan.

Chikli was sentenced to 11 years in prison. His associate Anthony Lasarevitsch was sentenced to seven years; four other men received sentences ranging from 15 months to five years.

New York Times reporter Aurelien Breeden covered the trial. He spoke with Day 6 host Brent Bambury and Chikli’s scheme. Here’s part of their conversation.

How did this scam work?

It was brazen and elaborate. Basically, there was this small group who targeted a huge array of people and institutions. They would call these people and pose as France’s defence minister, who at the time was Jean-Yves Le Drian.

They would provide some pretext saying there was a pressing matter of national security, often a hostage release, and they would say that France urgently needed millions of euros for some sort of off-the-books operation that couldn’t be made public.

They would ask these targets to wire that money to foreign accounts in Poland and China or wherever. So the whole scheme was basically an impostor scheme. It was based on convincing people that this really was the defence minister calling for help.

Chikli would pose as French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, pictured above. He would then tell potential victims that France urgently needed millions of euros for an off-the-books operation that couldn’t be made public. ( JOHN THYS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

How many people were taken in by this?

To be fair, most people did not fall for it. Of the 150 or so who were targeted, in the end only three actually sent money. But those three people were very rich.

There was a very wealthy Turkish businessman. There was the French head of a very prestigious wine estate. And the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, who is a very wealthy man. And so those three people alone [were] enough to pull in over 50 million euros.

How much of that 50 million euros was recovered?

Investigators are still trying to trace that money, because as soon as it was sent over, it bounced from shell account to shell account. And at the trial, the court asked for damages to be awarded to these three victims.

But there’s very little hope, at least as of now, that that money will actually be recovered and that those damages will be awarded.

How convincing was this disguise that they put on for Skype video calls?

It doesn’t look great. The fake office that this person is in looks almost comical. There’s a very ancient phone on the desk. And I think someone looking at it now thinks there’s no way people could fall for this.

But what they did [was] very smart. They kept the calls very short and the quality intentionally fuzzy. Everything was done so that if someone was already starting to fall for this, they might think: “Wow, OK, this is the real deal” — even though in hindsight you look at it and you think, “Well, I’m not sure how people fell for that.” But some people did.

Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, imam of the Ismaili Muslim community, was one of Chikli’s victims. (AP Photo/Jan Bauer, Paul White)

What can you tell us about Gilbert Chikli?

He is a larger-than-life kind of character. He’s 54. He’s Franco-Israeli. And he has this kind of swagger about him.

He was sentenced in 2015 to a very similar scam where he would pretend to be the CEOs of companies. He would call up employees and convince them to draw cash from the company accounts and wire it somewhere — again, always under the pretext of some sort of top secret operation. He was very good at sweet-talking people.

How did he end up getting caught for this French defence ministry scheme?

He was actually arrested in Ukraine with another person who was also convicted in this scam. They were in Ukraine for an unrelated reason. Investigators think they were trying to potentially develop a new scam where they would impersonate the prince of Monaco.

That maybe what they were doing in Ukraine — trying to find potentially, you know, someone who could make a mask in the prince of Monaco’s [likeness]. But they were arrested in Ukraine and extradited to France.

What was the reaction in the courtroom when they sentenced Chikli?

He was very angry. There was an outburst on his part. He basically said that the prosecutors were working for the rich. He accused them of doing this at the bidding of the defence minister. And he sounded outraged that he was being asked to pay millions in euros in damages to these three victims.


Written and produced by Steve Howard.

100 thoughts on “How a scammer used a silicone mask to bilk millions from the Aga Khan

  1. NO NEED OF CHEERS, NOR OF CHAIRS, DUMB-BAT jj mammel.

    On Saturday, June 12, 2021, 12:13:15 PM CDT, JJ wrote: Three CHEERS…………..not CHAIRS, dumb-Ass, Shuja.

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  2. Alberto You want Muslims to respond to you but you begin by insulting them under the label of “brainwashed.”  Explain why you think you are not brainwashed and Muslims are brainwashed. SincerelyKaukab Siddique, PhD

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  3. Dear Shujaa’! Afghan Taliban won’t tolerate any foreign power to enter and rule their country.We Pakistanis give due importance to the Afghan resolve and respect it.

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  4.   Muhammad, pbuh, Abu Bakr, Umar, Usman, r.a., were all superior to Ali. r.a., as were Khadija, Ayesha, Umm Salama and Hafsa, r.a.Ali and his family are not mentioned in the Quran even once

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  5. Mukhtar-e-bey ikhtiyar is a hopelessly idiot to write so high about Hazrat Ali KarramAllahu wajhahu. THERE WAS NO BROTHER TO HAZRAT I’SA A’LAIHISSALAM……PERIOD. Imamat isn’t above Nubuwwat in Islam. agakhan, a biped isn’t a khuda, nor he is in the progeny of Hazrat A’li (karramAllahu Wajhahu), but he is from among A’sharah-e-Mubashshsirah, a fourth caliph, acousin and a son inlaw to the last Prophet (Sallallahu A’laihi wa Sallam). A sizeable majority of Muslims reject shia islam, so also they reject the wahabi dharam, both are deviants.

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  6. The Quran has numerous versesPraising sahaba higher than all humans except prophets.Look at sura 9:100 for instance.Mukhtar you are ignorant fool.That’s why you think the playboy of paris is an imam.Sis. Gulshan is right. Agha khanis  are strictly kept away from the Qur’an.

     

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  7. Yes in 9:10 Sahabah A’laihimurRidhwaan are described beautifully by Allah Himself, but khatmals are blind, can’t see.There are many other places where Allah mentions thewm and shias deny them to lose their iman. Mukhtar-e-bey ikhtiyaar is a useless khatmal, that talks very irrelevantly and worships a biped drunkard.

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  8. “Help us”does not mean violence.All countries punish defamation in various ways. We need to know where he is located so legal notice can be served on him.Total ban by Muslims can also help.

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  9. Please note, as per the Indian constitution only the Government agenciescan dispense justice and punishment as per the law. BJP and all other gundas enjoy the exception. They can do it. They usually do it against Muslims in India, but I am not upset to ask them for help. I want mukhtar to die a natural death, not lynching by any one.

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  10. Let jj make futile talks.

    On Saturday, June 26, 2021, 2:22:10 PM CDT, JJ wrote: “All great men are Boozers/Drunkards/Womanizers/gamblers/Perverts………which is their right or else they are not great”……………………JJ “All Religion-Crazies are: Morose/KILL-Joy/Bland/Boring/bad-Breath/hate anything remotely fun/anti-innovation/technology & progress/they ruin their own life & of all others around them. They do it not for love of Islam but love for fucking 72 Virgins.”………..JJ

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  11. KulkarniWho told you i could not reply?Don’t make up stories. Defamation of a woman is a top level crime. You Brahmin Hindus dont think so. No wonder India is the rape capital of the world.There are still many Sunnis in India and we will locate this Agha khani sooner or later Its just a matter of time. I know you like him because he supports genocide in Kashmir, Khalistan,  Assam and Naxalbari.

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  12. Cow urine drinker bamman kukarni is lying about all Hindu gundas in India who beat Muslims to death and this bamman is saying it is my prejudice. the rest of your mail has no relation to what I wrote.

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  13. Mukhtar Alam you have defamed a Muslim woman just like Hindus do in India. You have to face trial.You are hiding the fact that you are an Agha khani and the playboy of Paris is considered imam by you. In your meeting with the Home Minister, Muslim participants  complained about arbitrary arrests and mistreatment. You, being the puppet you are, had no complaint against the Indian government. Hindu India has committed genocide in Kashmir, khalistan, Assam and Naxalbari. And you do not oppose the genocide.

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  14. jj is a bat womanizer idiot, hangs upside down then sees and asks us to see things that way.

    On Wednesday, July 14, 2021, 11:05:16 PM CDT, JJ wrote: Polygamy was established because; “Men are born Polygamous.”& mainly Because: “All great men are womanizers/Boozers/Gamblers/Perverts, which is their right or else they are not great.”……….JJ “All great men/real men have Harems/enjoy multiple women.”……….JJ

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  15. “Islam is an epidemic of mental illness bequeathed from one man to his followers,” “he raped their women”Only pigs can make this kind of ststements.

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  16. There Is no scope for blasphemy In Pakistan.Hindu scoundrels destroyed Babri masjid without blasphemy. Sent from the all new AOL app for Android

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  17. Sorry to say: Even if we ignore the Satan – it is useless, as Satan is here until the Day of Judgement. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Sent: August 7, 2021 10:30 AM From: Shairoz & Group of converts Subject: Ignore/ Re: Religion of Peace in Action – Must see To: CC: All

    Ignore Behra-Bahramji Imami Jihadi gang member, most hateful of Islam like the Satan Lucifer-Iblis. He is digging the Graves to spread hatred against Islam and Muslims, as well as introducing hatred against other nations. That is evident in his/their satanic propaganda. The Jihadis are growing in age but shrinking in brains.

    ________________________________

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  18. Islam Khan Saheb Parsi bastards use the same unprofessional and unethical language as they are taught, so, don’t be surprised at all.

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  19. Note this fool “velveteen'”s arrogance. He says, walk with me and see heaven!Totally unknown person making weird claims.

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  20. Obviously velveteen is an idiot.Sex is his mental retardation.Probably soils himself. Hindu idiot has no idea what the Qur’an says.With his tremendous hatred for Muslims, he claims live and.let live. Can’t even reveal his identity and claims a 1300 year long descent. I am glad such.brain dead people oppose Islam. Velveteen and garbage like him don’t have a chance against Islam.

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  21. My newsletter New Trend magazine and organization Jamaat al Muslimeen have traced the islamic victory in Afghanistan before anyone else.Not only now but step by step as the war developed. newtrendmag.org 

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  22. Then what is the next in Afghanistan?Would America come back to finish the unfinished business?Northerners, after converging in Panjshir, pose a serious threat to Taliban, what are other challenges for them?

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  23. How consistent is this victory?TTP and PTM, along with the armed forces with the Northerners in Panjshir would pose a serious threat for the victors.

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  24. Then we should start supporting the oppressed people. At least speak out about our political prisoners. If you don’t do or say anything, why call for Allah’s help. Does Allah say there is no need to do anything?

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  25. “Take any dispute between two countries, one party is always a Muslim. ” I took the dispute between France and Germany in WWII, none of the 2 countries are Muslims.What do you say Prem??

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  26. Muslims are fighting against oppressors,  not against any religion.Often people with Muslim names support oppressors. In Kulkarni’s list he conveniently left out the fact that in most of these cases, the oppressors are also occupiers.Muslims  will InshaAllah be a global power. Soviet union and NATO have been defeated. India and Israel will be next, InshaAllah.   

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  27. Videos, lists and attachments are sent out by people who are idiots and cannot think for themselves.This is a discussion group, not a platform for propaganda. Sent from the all new AOL app for Android

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  28. Kulkarni does not dare talk about Hinduism.Instead he makes up stories about Islam.Terms like Darul  harb do  not appear in Quran and hadith. Islam is against oppressors and occupiers even if they are Muslims in name.Get out of Kashmir and Khalistan otherwise you will be kicked out sooner or later.

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  29. See India, a staunch supporter of the Western opressors in Afghanistan, is now shunted out. She is trying to send arms to the Northern Alliance, see both will be defeated. Taliban have banned the trade with India.India’s economy is in drifting into a dangerous red.India is an oppressor in Kashmir having 900,000 soldiers their to control a Muslim population of 800,000, means an extra ordinary force to silence them…..is it not occupation and oppression…..are Indians eating “GOBER” now a days, not to understand they are bloody occupiers and oppressors and that they be killed and pushed out of Kashmir, a disputed territory?Indians are criminals, they are oppressing their own minorities, demolishing their mosques, churches and businesses. she is inviting its neighbours to be attacked and taught lessons of amicably living with the less unfortunate minorities. This will be done very soon, wait and see.

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  30. Kulkarni You are displaying your ignorance based on the tit bits you have picked up here and there.As I told you there is no Darul harb etc in Quran and hadith. I am an imam and scholar of a thousand articles on Islam.You are a  nincompoop and cannot write about Hinduism. Kashmiris are very gentle people and Hindu barbarians committed genocide on them. Even now you have the  biggest occupation army in the world.As I told you, one Pakistani is equal to 10 Hindus.See how nice we were to Abinandan? Sikhs can break you into pieces. Right now you are dominant but it’s a matter of time.

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  31. KulkarniThese are not the days of Yahya Khan who was a drunkard and a fool.This is the emergence of Islamic fighters. Try it now. Even the gentle Kashmiris are giving.you a bloody.nose.Your best officer Abinandan learned his lesson. You try any of your dirty tricks, you will get Mahmoud Ghaznavi to put an end to your Somnath.This time Sikh brothers will be with us. You are so scared even on the Internet that you can’t show your face.Let’s see your face.Cowards like you don’t have  a chance against Pakistan. Pakistan will bring down your arrogance and then offer you tea because even when we thrash you, we treat you better than you treat your lower castes. You can’t even write my name correctly, you don’t have a chance of winning at all, InshaAllah. 

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  32. Don’t be silly KulkarniTaliban have defeated a superpower.Just like your mercenaries in Kashmir, America had huge numbers of mercenaries who have been summarily defeated. Your army  destroyed the sacred temple of the Sikhs and desecrated Granth sahib. No comparison with a sneaky damage done to a statue. Hindu government is ruling Khalistan under terrorism laws. Sikhs have no rights. Nothing has happened in Panjsher. Even America has not made a claim of conflict there. You are living in illusions. Guerrilla warfare does not win by firepower but by attrition.See how you are unable to defeat Kashmiris and Sikhs although they have nothing comparable to your firepower. Again you are hiding your dirty religion and your face. Wake up. Don’t be scared. Thr internet is not controlled by Sikhs.   

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  33. Evil Tronic is proven Satan-Lucifer-Iblis. Most hateful of GOD-Creator of the Universe. Maybe he is Zina Agakhan as he keeps on using our Quran to prove his evil desires. Why can’t he first accept the Lord-Creator of the Universe, then he will get all the right answers and he doesn’t need to bother us and waste our precious time..

    Satan can keep on arguing, but cannot change anything and will never win. So, he should get lost. Concentrate on why the world is in turmoil? Why towns and cities are destroyed? Who is destroying it and why? Just the right answers for these questions will put him on the right track. Hope he comprehends this easy solution.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Sent: August 31, 2021 9:30 PM From: Zahra & Group of Converts Subject: Iblis Tronic/Re: Multiverse in the Quran To: CC: All

    Iblis Tronic Has nothing left in his miserable life, that’s why he keeps on bugging Muslims with his satanic opinions. He should first of all spend his miserable time finding who is his Father? Start from the simplest thing then go for higher education of the Divine-Quran. Or go to Bhagwan Agakhan and ask him as he claims to be the owner of Hell and Heaven. Make sure don’t annoy him, otherwise he will throw you in Hell. Poor Tronic. He needs some health Tonic. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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  34. jj! where were you born? WHAT WAS YOUR CITIZENSHIP BEFORE YOU CAME TO USA?? Don’t shy away, tell us about the country of your birth, mind that this is a very simple question I am asking you, try to reply it correctly.

    On Monday, October 11, 2021, 01:06:41 AM CDT, JJ wrote: Two Janwars allied with each other.

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  35. Those Pakistanis may be they are parsis, or christians, even if they are Muslims, why should Islam be blamed for their heinous act. Are you people in the best of your health??

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  36. “Zina, economically the country where I live is doing fairly well so, a definitely, a YES on peace and stability.”Tronic! Where are you living and vitiating the air there??

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  37. Yes tronic, I do divert attention when you fart so badly.Your education didn’t civilise you as it should have done, so be it, no body likes your unusual farting..

    Like

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