Two Israeli citizens were convicted by a court in Paris of stealing 55 million euros by claiming that they worked for the French defense minister and needed money to pay a ransom to liberate two kidnapped French citizens, the BBC reported.
Gilbert Chikli, 54, and Anthony Lasarevitsch, 35, conducted Skype conversations with about 150 businessmen and wealthy people and told them that two French citizens had been kidnapped in Syria from 2015 to 2016.
The two claimed they worked for Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and asked politicians and executives for financial aid for what they called secret operations by the French state.
The scam was conducted from a house in Ashdod in southern Israel. The call would take place in a room decorated with a French flag and a picture of the President of the French Republic. Each presented himself as the director of the French Defense Minister's office and spoke under the condition of confidentiality.
Aga Khan, spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, made five transfers to the scammers of a total of 20 million euros to Poland and China in 2016, according to Asharq Al-Awsat. Three of the payments were frozen, but 7.7 million euros disappeared.
Turkish business magnate Inan Kirac was also reportedly convinced to transfer over $47 million.
Chikli was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment. Lasarevitsch was sentenced to seven years. Both were fined one million euros each.