A conman who tried to book luxury holidays for John Terry and Rio Ferdinand using stolen bank card details has been jailed for four and a half years, it can be reported today.
Faisal Madani, 48, attempted 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 on Tuesday June 12, 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 today to the possession of counterfeit currency, a court official said.
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 the exclusive travel agent Worldwide Escapes in upmarket 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.
“The defendant contacted Miss Thompson to organise a holiday for John Terry and his family, who wanted to go to Dubai,” Malcolm said. “A man purporting to be Mr Hughes answered the phone and authorised the use of his card.”
She said the initial transaction was declined, but then three more were successful.
Thompson, suspicious of Madani, managed to find a genuine telephone number for 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 a bid to buy another holiday – worth £37,500 – for Terry.
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.
Eventually Madani somehow managed to find funds to pay for the luxury break, the court heard, and the Terry party travelled to Dubai.
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.
Malcolm told the court the family travelled to Dubai because Worldwide Escapes let them go without payment.
“A few days later Miss Thompson called the defendant, and he said they weren’t staying at the hotel. But she called the hotel, and found out that wasn’t true,” the prosecutor said.
Madani also attempted to use stolen credit and debit card details to pay a £1,000 deposit on flights for the Manchester United defender Ferdinand, and £2,000 for a box at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium for Terry.
Ms Malcolm said it was unclear how Madani came into the possession of the card details, but that “it was while he was on bail to Chester Crown Court that he seemed to gain access” to them.
As well as using stolen details for holidays, Madani set up a company called £20 Or Less so he could buy card machines to process payments totalling around £100,000.
He was banned from having his own company, so in order to set up £20 Or Less he used a false Tunisian passport which had his own photograph but another man’s name,“ Ms Malcolm said.
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.
Passing sentence, Judge McCreath told Madani: “The background of this case is the fact that you decided, for whatever reason, to create a persona that was wholly false.
“By some means or other, you acquired all the details in relation to a significant number of high-value credit cards.”
Addressing the £20 Or Less scam, Judge McCreath added: “You did so in order to create more money for yourself, on this occasion by credit card fraud, and you did so to the tune of around about £100,000.”
For the holiday frauds, the judge jailed Madani for three years, to run concurrently with the sentence for the £20 Or Less crime, for which he also gave three years.
Judge McCreath sentenced Madani to another 18 months, consecutive to the other jail terms, for possession of false identity documents.
Another judge, Peter Testar, sentenced him to four months for the possession of counterfeit currency, to run concurrently.