Ex-footballer jailed for impersonating Chelsea youngster Gaël Kakuta | inside World Soccer

Former footballer Medi Abalimba has been sentenced to four years in prison after admitting to multiple fraud offences while pretending to be Chelsea youngster Gaël Kakuta.

Gaël Kakuta (left) and his impersonator Medi Abalimba
Gaël Kakuta (left) and his impersonator Medi Abalimba

Abalimba was found guilty at Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday of multiple fraud offences - with the help of stolen credit card information - totalling approximately £163,000.

He obtained the details by photographing American Express cards he found in lockers he broke into using a master key at a gym in Camden, North London.

The 22-year-old would allegedly swan into nightclubs with an entourage of people, including bodyguards and women, and spend thousands on champagne in exclusive VIP areas.

Abalimba phoned venues claiming to be the agent of Kakuta before turning up posing as the French winger.

His crime spree saw him stay at expensive hotels, dine at fine restaurants and, on one occasion, he even took four women from Manchester to London in a rented helicopter.

Greater Manchester Police tracked him down to an £800-a-night rented mansion in Berkshire.

He admitted 12 offences of fraud and dishonesty, in London, West Yorkshire, Manchester and Derby and asked for 19 offences to be considered.

Sergeant Adam Cronshaw, of GMP, told reporters: "Having spoken with many of the victims in this case it appears that Abalimba is a charming and charismatic individual who was able to call on his previous football experience and the fact he bears some resemblance to the real Gaël Kakuta to deceive them.

"He was able to trick most people he came across and grew in confidence the longer the charade continued."

He added: "Abalimba told us that many of his victims treated him so differently because they thought he was a celebrity footballer. Unfortunately this trust and goodwill was misplaced.

"I hope more businesses are now aware of this scam and have the necessary security measures in place to prevent similar occurrences."

Abalimba made a £1 million move to Derby County in 2009 but fell out of the game due to an apparent lack of discipline and commitment.

The real Kakuta, meanwhile, remains contracted to Chelsea but is currently on loan in Spain with Rayo Vallecano.

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