The fake marabout, the two bankers and the scam involving more than a million euros

After several sentimental disappointments, two bankers from Oise, Diane* and Marie*, went to a so-called African marabout in the Paris region on July 21, 2020

The fake marabout, the two bankers and the scam involving more than a million euros

After several sentimental disappointments, two bankers from Oise, Diane* and Marie*, went to a so-called African marabout in the Paris region on July 21, 2020. A few days later, Marie was approached when leaving work by a man who forcibly retrieves his phone number. After making specific threats against his family, the latter ordered him to make transfers under penalty of reprisals. At the end of August, the two bankers planned to notify the police, but they were paralyzed by fear. “We said to ourselves that notifying the authorities would be worse,” Diane regrets today. You have to experience it to understand it. »

It will take them time and overcoming a lot of anxiety before they decide to do it. The racketeers “told me that, if I spoke, I was dead and that my son was going to die,” Marie told investigators from the Lille judicial police, in a complaint against could consult. I came back from vacation and, from September [2020], two of them came to my house showing me a RIB. On this RIB, they wanted 25,000 euros. According to them, everything was going to end, except that the operations took place every two days.”

Both women are under the influence. Terrified, they obey orders. The criminals demand that Marie also draw from her clients' accounts. “On November 16, a man showed up at 6 a.m. telling me that, for this evening, he wanted me to spend 240,000 euros on a RIB,” she declared in the report, February 14 2021 in Lille. I refused. He grabbed me by the throat and slammed me against the wall, saying, “If you don’t do this, you die.” »

For his part, the false marabout, in a benevolent tone, explains that “to protect yourself, you have to do things. By doing things, you have to understand doing the requested banking operations, explains Diane during her hearing before the judicial police on February 14, 2021 in Lille. The principals specified that it was an advance which would be reimbursed in cash... Taken cold turkey, the situation may seem hallucinatory.

“An international network”

While Marie is at Diane's house, a man knocks on her door. He presents the “scared and frozen” banker with photos of his children. She must now siphon off her clients’ accounts. On November 10, Diane made a first transfer of 32,000 euros to a British account. Two others follow for a total amount of 70,000 euros. Ten days later, she transferred 40,000 euros to a garage in the Ile-de-France region. To convince her clients, she lies by telling them about withdrawals intended to avoid inheritance tax. “We were no longer aware of the importance of the amounts, the value of money,” says Diane, wiping away her tears. Fear has made us lose all sense. »

The modus operandi is simple. The racketeers send a RIB – by WhatsApp or directly to their mailbox – into which the funds must be paid. They set a time limit for the operation under penalty of reprisals. The money obtained by the fake marabout and his accomplices is notably sent to Belgium, Germany and a garage in the Paris region. “We could see that we were not dealing with a team of little wankers on scooters but with an international network,” confides Diane. That scared us even more. »

During November, a second false marabout appeared to Marie. He asks for even higher sums than the first. Diane's agency manager discovers her suspicious transfers. On November 25, the banker was laid off. “It was a kind of relief,” she told the Lille inspectors. My absolute priority was to reconnect with the customers affected by the transfers made… I told them that I was changing agencies and reassured them that the funds would be returned. »

In December, Diane lost 30 pounds and considered “hospitalization or even suicide.” The two friends decide to live together but the racketeers don't give them any respite. A few hours after Christmas, “an unknown number reminded us that the transfer of 115,000 euros was still pending,” Diane told the police.


On January 4, 2021, Marie was also laid off. “From there, they asked us for cash,” Diane explains. The two women spend their day going through their repertoire to find new money. “We no longer had any discernment,” remembers Diane. We were robots, puppets. At first, we were under the influence. Afterwards, we were guided by our survival instinct. »

The funds are delivered to the marabout in Val-de-Marne or “to other Africans” in Seine-Saint-Denis and to an apartment in the south of Paris. According to elements of the procedure obtained by Diane, part of this money was used to buy foodstuffs and refrigerated trucks in Guinea.

In mid-February, when she once again asked her brother-in-law for money, he became worried. He thinks that Diane is on drugs or that she is under the influence of a cult. Faced with him, she collapses while describing “the hell” she has suffered for eight months. In the process, the two women filed a complaint for death threats and extortion on February 14, 2021 at the General Directorate of the National Police in Lille.

Faced with investigators, Marie estimates that in three months, she had to “send practically 1 million euros” in transfers, part of which was taken from around thirty clients of her bank. For her part, Diane estimates the total amount she paid at 300,000 euros. Since July 2020, the marabout and his accomplices have defrauded bankers of more than 1.3 million euros, to which must be added their personal savings, consumer loans, etc.

Other complaints against the false marabout

The prosecution decided in May 2021 to open two preliminary investigations. The first, following their complaint, for acts of extortion by an organized gang at gunpoint. The second, where they are this time considered as perpetrators of fraud and breach of trust to the detriment of their former clients and their loved ones. Due to the location of the perpetrators and the initial facts, the case handled in Amiens is transmitted from June 2023 to the Créteil court. An investigating judge is seized.

“After a legal battle of two and a half years, this is a first victory,” says Nejma Labidi, Diane’s lawyer. The two files are necessarily linked. What my client did is inseparable from what she suffered. There was no personal enrichment on his part. » At the hearing, prosecutor Hugo Sellier, according to comments reported by Courrier Picard, was of the same opinion: “I could not sustain guilt knowing that this file is not complete. It’s not just a matter of two bank advisors embezzling funds. This file is beyond them. » By the time the investigations are completed, no trial can be expected for three or four years.

The submission of the procedure to the Créteil public prosecutor's office revealed that other complaints, brought against the same false marabout, had been filed by a dozen people. The first dates back to 2016 for acts of fraud, extortion, but also rape and sexual assault. The procedure was identical.

“After I filed a complaint, the calls continued until November 2021 but I no longer followed up,” says Diane, fired after her layoff. Working in the banking sector is currently prohibited for him. She found a temporary job in the food industry where she sometimes works nights. Diane has no news from Marie. Placed under judicial supervision, the two friends are not allowed to contact each other.