Conman jailed over attempts to book holidays for football stars

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A CONMAN who tried to book luxury holidays for soccer stars John Terry and Rio Ferdinand using stolen bank card details has been jailed for four and a half years.

Faisal Madani, 48, tried to spend around £110,000 on other people’s credit and debit cards on trips to the Middle East for high-profile sports stars.

He even tried to use the details of underwear model Eva Herzegova to pay for a holiday for Chelsea captain Terry.

Madani was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court earlier this month, but judge Alistair McCreath banned the publication of details of the case until the court had dealt with another charge against him.

He pleaded guilty at the same court to the possession of counterfeit currency.

The fraudster, who has already served a jail term after a trial at Chester for forging and selling the autographs of top sports stars, posed as a personal friend of Premier League footballers and their associates, the court heard.

“Madani used or tried to use credit and debit cards that belonged to other people to book holidays to Dubai for high- profile people,” said prosecutor Helen Malcolm QC, opening the case.

“The defendant is somebody who has plainly sought to establish himself as a figure of some note in the professional sports industry, and he claims to have contact with some footballers.”

The lawyer said the stars, agents and other people in the football industry had no idea the fraudster was lying about his credentials.

Madani targeted travel agencies in the North West over the Christmas period in 2007. He used exclusive travel agent Worldwide Escapes in Alderley Edge in Cheshire to book a holiday for Terry and six others worth around £48,000, the prosecutor said.

He got hold of the card details of a man, known only as Mr D Hughes, and tried to book a holiday with a Worldwide Escapes employee, referred to in court as Miss Thompson.

Miss Thompson, suspicious of Madani, managed to find a genuine telephone number for Mr Hughes.

He told her he had not authorised the transactions, and the holiday was cancelled.

Madani then turned to another travel agent, Trailfinders in Manchester.

“He represented to them that he frequently booked holidays for high-profile sporting individuals and that he had done so for many years,” Ms Malcolm said.

The court was played a tape of Madani attempting to use a number of cards in an attempt to buy another holiday – worth £37,500 – for Terry.

Ms Malcolm said: “The second was a card belonging to Eva Herzigova, and she had no idea the card was being used.”

The fraudster tried to use the model’s card to pay around £18,000 towards the holiday, but the transaction was declined.

On another occasion in December 2007 Madani arranged a luxury holiday to the United Arab Emirates city for the father of footballer Jamie Carragher, Gary, and his family for around £5,500.

Ms Malcolm told the court the family travelled to Dubai because Worldwide Escapes let them go without payment.

In mitigation, Madani’s lawyer, Christopher van Hagan, said Madani had acted in “pure vanity”.

He said: “This man, for all intents and purposes, must be described as a conman.

“The hallmark is not, as it is for most conmen, for financial gain.

“He is a man who suffers from vanity.”

Madani pleaded guilty to 24 charges on March 23.

There were 17 counts of fraud in which he used stolen card details to buy, or attempt to buy, holidays; three counts of possession of fake identification documents, including a Greek passport, a Tunisian passport and Tunisian immigration documents; two counts of possession of articles for use with fraud; one count of theft; and one count of acquiring criminal property.