Former professional soccer player Medi Abalimba was sentenced to four years in jail by a Manchester, England, court for impersonating French player Gael Kakuta.
Former professional soccer player Medi Abalimba was sentenced to four years in jail by a Manchester, England, court for impersonating French player Gael Kakuta, according to the Associated Press.
Abalimba, 25, admitted to multiple counts of fraud and dishonesty based around his telling businesses and people that he was the 23-year-old Kakuta.
According to the BBC, Abalimba would call clubs, hotels and other businesses in advance of his arrival and tell them a sports star would be coming and to be prepared. He'd run up tabs without paying because of his supposed celebrity and also often paid using stolen credit card information.
Sgt Adam Cronshaw of GMP, said Abalimba was "charming and charismatic" and could call on his previous football experience and "some resemblance to the real Gael Kakuta to deceive his victims".
He added: "Abalimba told us that many of his victims treated him so differently because they thought he was a celebrity footballer."
Abalimba never advanced in his professional career but had stints with Derby, Oldham, Fulham and Crystal Palace. He signed with Derby for more than £1 million in 2009 and couldn't bear to stop living the "high life" when his money ran out, according to his lawyer.
Kakuta signed a professional deal with Chelsea in 2009 after two years with its youth team and has been loaned out to six teams in the years since. The winger was loaned to Rayo Vallecano for the 2014-15 season and has appeared in all eight of the team's La Liga games so far, scoring two goals.
Kakuta is also a member of France's youth national team.
- Ben Estes