Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Con man boards over 15 flights as pilot, held

New Delhi: Life imitated art at the IGI Airport on Monday when security personnel caught a man impersonating a Lufthansa pilot while catching a flight to Kolkata on AirAsia India — an act reminiscent of the lead character in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’.
In the movie, con artist Frank Abagnale Jr (played by Leonardo DeCaprio) pretends to be a Pan Am pilot, among his many impersonations, while swindling millions of dollars.
While the con jobs of Rajan Mahbubani, a resident of Vasant Kunj, weren’t as financially rewarding, he has admitted to taking more than 15 flights in the past impersonating as a pilot and getting preferential treatment such as free upgrades and direct access to the plane without waiting in queues, police said.
Mahbubani even boasted about this on social media to impress corporate clients and friends, police added.
The impersonator is learnt to have told Lufthansa officials that he had bought the fake ID from Bangkok and used it “at Delhi and Kolkata airports numerous times in the last six months. He used to identify himself as a consultant and instructor with the Lufthansa base at Kolkata,” said sources.

Mahbubani was apprehended while trying to take flight I5-579 at 12.35 pm on Monday after the airline called up Lufthansa to check his credentials.
“AirAsia India from Delhi Airport called up Lufthansa office to confirm the travel of this person, who was wearing the German carrier’s uniform and had an identity card. Lufthansa immediately sent its team to contact this person at boarding gate 52 inside the security hold area of T3, Delhi Airport. When confronted by Lufthansa officials, this person admitted to impersonation,” said sources.
AirAsia India confirmed this case of false identity. “The individual in question was impersonating as an employee of Lufthansa airlines. He was handed over to the airport police and an investigation has been ordered. We would like to emphasise that we stand by all security policies and till the time the investigation is completed we would be unable to provide specific details with regards to this,” said AirAsia India’s chief of safety.

The Lufthansa team requested CISF and AirAsia India teams to offload this person from the flight and handed him over to IGI Airport police for further investigation.
During investigation, Mahbubani said he impersonated a Lufthansa pilot to gain easy access during the security clearance and have preferential treatment from the security agencies and airlines. He used the passage normally taken by crew members for getting into the aircraft, the official added.
19/11/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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