A Gulf News investigation.
For at least six years now, the Nigerian scammer has been masquerading as a pilot of the world’s top carrier. That’s nearly thrice as many years conman extraordinaire Frank Abagnale posed as a pilot for Pan Am in order to wangle free flights in the 1950s.
Abagnale’s exploits were depicted in Steven Spielberg’s award-winning blockbuster movie, “Catch Me if You Can”, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Leonardo DiCaprio in a scene from the 2002 blockbuster “Catch Me If You Can” based on the exploits of conman turned American security consultant Frank Abagnale.
However, unlike Abagnale, who flew across 25 countries after forging a pilot’s licence and securing a Pan Am uniform, 36 year old Babatunde has been impersonating an Emirates pilot to peddle forged flight tickets and visas. He has also used his cover to impress people, many of whom he has later duped, according to a Gulf News investigation based on the testimonies of several of his victims spread across South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
Non-existent airline offers repatriation flights.
Now Babatunde has come up with a new rip-off scheme. He is targeting aviation hopefuls worldwide with lucrative job opportunities in an airline which, like his pilot’s licence, doesn’t exist. “We are recruiting!” screams a poster of the purported Ghana-based ‘AN Airways’ promoted by Babatunde.
The bogus airline, which claims to have “joined forces with the Ghana government in the evacuation of Ghanaians from the United Kingdom” is inviting job applications for the post of air hostesses, flight attendants, operation manager, flight dispatcher and automation engineers, among others. Even as An Airways’ website remains under construction, pictures of Babatunde wearing a poor copy of an Emirates pilot’s uniform are being widely shared on twitter by handles like @mudzu_thabe.
Emirates calls bluff.
Emirates Airline has cautioned against the conman.
“Emirates has been made aware of an individual who falsely claims to be one of its pilots running a recruitment campaign on behalf of another company,” an Emirates spokesperson said in an email statement in response to a Gulf News query on Sunday.
“Emirates has never employed this individual and does not endorse these types of recruitment practices,” the statement said.
A Gulf News investigation, corroborated by a whistle blower, shows that the website of AN Airways has been created to raise money from potential investors and lure job enthusiasts into sharing their personal information so that they could be used for identity theft and other cybercrimes.