Crooks tried to impersonate Ricky Gervais by using a picture of The Office character David Brent mounted in a counterfeit passport as part of a comically inept attempt to withdraw a large sum from the comedian's bank account.
The ingenious retro-fraudsters tried to extract £200,000 from the comic actor's bank account in order to buy gold bullion. Instead of using phishing or cyber-crime to obtain login credentials and cash-out the account or obtaining fraudulent lines of credit after impersonating Gervais, the crooks kept it old school.
Their cunning plan revolved around impersonating Brent by turning up at a bank vault with a amateurishly faked passport featuring a 'David Brent' picture cut from the packaging of a DVD of The Office instead of a proper passport photo. It's unclear whether the crooks were impersonating Gervais himself or simply posing as couriers acting on his behalf and using the counterfeit passport to back up their story.
In any case, bank officials quickly became suspicious and called Gervais, 48, who authorised them to bring in the police and arrest the criminal masterminds, the Daily Telegraph reports.
After making an arrest, police told Gervais that the passport was either stolen or obtained from a dead man before it was amateurishly altered. It's unclear how the fraudsters figured out where Gervais banked. The comic himself suggested the attempted fraud turned out to be an inside job, hatched by corrupt insiders at the unnamed bank.
The scam took place several years ago but Gervais only spoke about if for the first time this weekend. The comic was not left out of pocket by the attempted scam and not required to testify in subsequent court proceedings.
The Sun, which carries an entertaining mock-up of what the fake passport might have looked like, reports that more details of the scam will be discussed during the Ricky Gervais Guide to Law & Order podcast. A quick perusal of iTunes, however, suggests that this is actually the latest in the comic's Guide To audiobooks.
An audio trailer for the upcoming audio book, where the Invention of Lying star talks about the scam, can be found on the comic's Ricky Gervais... Obviously website here. ®