Meet ‘The Football Fraudster’ who posed as ex-Chelsea ace & conned Love Islander

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    Medi Abalimba has been branded a 'football fraudster' and for good reason.

    The footballer never reached the heights he'd expected – he enjoyed trials at Manchester City and Manchester United – before landing a couple first-team call-ups at Oldham Athletic in 2011. While not much is known about his personal life, it's confirmed that he was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, before his family fled to the UK in the 1990s.

    Despite his failing football career, Abalimba decided he was destined to live a lavish lifestyle and went as far as defrauding people he met to live the high life. He infamously masqueraded as ex-Chelsea star Gael Kakuta in 2014 and ran up bills totalling thousands of pounds due to stays in luxurious London hotels as well as a helicopter trip.

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    A documentary called 'The Footballer Fraudster' was released this week on ITVX, as Dr Donna Youngs says upon reviewing the fraud case of Abalimba, it's one she's rarely come across as extreme as his. "It feels driven by a sense of a dream unfulfilled or snatched away,” says Claire McArdle, executive producer of the documentary.

    While he pretended to be a jet-setting wealthy individual, in reality he earned around £300 a week at sixth-tier club Farnborough, where he had worked part-time in the office of a minicab company. Youngs said the footballer was: "Playing on people’s respect for money, status and fame. They don’t demand payment. They stretch credit. They make allowances they wouldn’t normally make (..) because of who he is."

    Is this the most extreme case of fraud you've seen in football? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below

    While masquerading as Kakuta, Abalimba spent over £20,000 on clothing and jewellery and attempted to pay for the goods with compromised credit card details. The police were soon informed and in October 2014, he admitted to 12 charges of fraud as the total amount of money he defrauded reached £163,000 which left him sentenced to four years in prison.

    Upon his release years later, Abalimba continued where he left off as in 2019 he met former Love Island star Georgia Steel in a Mayfair nightclub – only this time portraying himself as ‘Miguel Johnson’. The pair had been loved up for a couple of months before The Sun revealed that the 'mystery American man' was in fact Abalimba.

    Steel said the revelation left her "completely numb" as she soon realised a "drastic" amount of money was missing from her bank account. Later that year, he was charged with defrauding Steel of £13,000 and was sentenced to 23 months in prison.

    He kept up his fake persona of 'Miguel Johnson' when he started up a relationship with Claire Merry, the former wife of Thierry Henry while he was in prison. Deciding to omit his incarcerated status, he instead told the model that he was a U.S. Navy SEAL stationed in Kuwait.

    Upon his release from prison, the pair stayed at luxury hotels as he bragged of meetings with Pippa Middleton but soon Merry found herself in the same situation as Steel as she discovered that she was defrauded of more than £50,000.

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    He endured another stint in prison in September 2021 when he admitted to 15 charges of fraud as he was sentenced to four years and two months and was released this year. Abalimba – who rejected some of the allegations levied at him – wrote a statement to ITV apologising for those he took advantage of.

    "The way I dealt with falling short of my dreams wasn’t right," he said. "I sincerely apologise to everyone I lied to and used." His football career never got started but it's fair to say he's left an indelible stain with his involvement in the sport.

    • Chelsea FC
    • Premier League
    • Love Island

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