Frenchman on trial for pretending to be nephew of Brigitte Macron

The man pretended to be the nephew of Brigitte Macron.
The man pretended to be the nephew of Brigitte Macron. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP
A man has gone on trial on charges of attempted fraud and usurping identity in a bizarre scam that saw him pretend to be the nephew of the wife of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The man, facing a Paris criminal court, also passed himself off as top Elysee officials in order to get VIP welcomes or exclusive perks, as well as creating a false email address purporting to be from the French presidency.

Claiming to be Brigitte Macron’s nephew, he sought luxuries like a VIP welcome in a top Morocco hotel, seats at the Australia Formula 1 Grand Prix and an Air France frequent flyer card.

Most of these attempts were unsuccessful, following checks by the companies involved. The last such attempted scam was in 2018.

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Only the French embassy in Bangladesh and a Hong Kong hotel failed to uncover his intentions. Introducing himself as the nephew of Brigitte Macron, the man, in his 30s, was able to visit a Rohingya refugee camp, meet the ambassador and enjoy an upgrade in a luxury hotel in Hong Kong.

He told the court he was attracted by “status, prestige, privileges”, but denied having acted “for the money” or “to do harm”.

“During my childhood, lying was part of everyday life. I ran away at 17 and I started to invent a life scenario for myself to create a kind of distortion compared to my life before”, he said.

The trial of the man and a suspected accomplice runs until Wednesday. The Elysee officials who he tried to impersonate, Pierre-Olivier Costa, the head of Brigitte Macron’s office, and Patrick Strzoda, Macron’s chief of staff, are both civil parties in the case.

A Paris court in 2020 sentenced two men to jail for their role in a scam impersonating French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian that even stretched to sometimes using a silicone mask in his likeness.

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