An investigation by West Yorkshire Police helped lead to the downfall and eventual imprisonment of a fraudulent failed footballer.
Medi Abalimba, 25, who pretended he was Chelsea footballer Gael Kakuta to con individuals and businesses, was jailed for four years last week after admitting 12 offences of fraud and dishonesty which totalled £163,000.
And it was when he conned a Todmorden woman - who does not wish to be named - out of around £7,5000 that his fraudulent world started to unravel.
Calderdale CID Detective Constable Darren Heald, who worked on the investigation with PC Lisa McDonald, said: “This woman was befriended by Abalimba and initially he treated her to a champagne lifestyle on the stolen credit cards. Then he duped her in to paying for things. He’s a really confident trickster.”
Claiming he couldn’t use his credit card because he was supposed to be on loan in Italy, Abalimba duped the woman into paying a £4,633 spa bill and £2,397 for a Range Rover hire.
The victim, who only ever knew Abalimba as Gael Kakuta, reported the con man to the police at the beginning of April and officers started re-tracing his steps. Using the details of a stolen credit card Abalimba had used in a Manchester hotel, officers managed to track his movements to Scotland, and ultimately who he was.
After circulating Abalimba as a wanted suspect he was eventually caught in Manchester. Working with officers from the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester Police and Police Scotland, West Yorkshire Police officers managed to fully expose Abalimba’s offending and bring a successful prosecution against him.
Abalimba, a former professional footballer with Derby and Liverpool, conned gyms, hotels, department stores and bars in Scotland, London, Derby and Manchester using stolen credit card details.
Speaking about Judge Robert Atherton’s decision to jail Abalimba for four years, DC Heald said: “It was an excellent result and it should given confidence to members of the public in Calderdale that we take this sort of crime seriously, pursue it and work for the right result.” As he has no assets, Abalimba’s victims are unlikely to be compensated.