With ‘The Masked Scammer’ charting the way a master conman managed to swindle over €100 million (close to $114 million) from the French elite, we get a true insight into the power of charm. That’s because this Netflix original French documentary unravels the complete life of Gilbert Chikli — whether his background or frauds — through the eyes of his accomplices and victims alike. Amongst those to thus extensively feature here to help move the narrative along is none other than his former girlfriend/abettor Shirley Vacaint — so now, let’s find out more about her, shall we?
Who is Shirley Vacaint?
It was back in 1995 that early 20-year-old Shirley first came across Gilbert while driving around Paris, admittedly uncovering a deep spark with him after simply locking eyes during a traffic jam. They actually hit it off right away in person as well due to their shared passion for money, with the former explaining she often hung out with those who made easy cash, and he had a good turnover. “I was always in luxury; very well off, in fact,” she added in the docu-movie. “But Gilbert was from [not-so-well-off] Belleville. That is why it clicked between us. The rich kid and the bad boy.”
At the time, Shirley was reportedly working for advertising companies that deliberately promoted false claims — a scam — yet she never minded as smooth-talking over the phone paid her well. It thus comes as no surprise that even though her then-boyfriend is considered the mastermind behind the 2005-2006 bank CEO hoaxes, she was the one who originally came up with the idea.
“In 2005, Gilbert had a money problem. Gambling debts. €200,000-€300,000. Lots of thugs wanted to get money out of him…,” Shirley conceded in the production. “That night, I was at my place with him… When I saw the London attacks on TV, I immediately thought of creating a scam playing on people’s fear and pretending to be a counterterrorism agent. And it worked like dynamite.”
However, everything changed a year later when the officials tracked down the number used to make these sham calls back to Shirley, resulting in her arrest and Gilbert’s identity coming to light. She did ostensibly protect her boyfriend at first, yet changed her mind upon realizing not only would he not do the same, but she’d also wind up in prison if she did not cooperate, so she talked.
Where is Shirley Vacaint Now?
Shirley was eventually sentenced to two years behind bars, following which she was placed on probation that required her to sign in twice a month at the local police station and forbade her to leave the country. Gilbert, whom she genuinely loved for his intelligence, didn’t care about any of this, per her accounts. “We were good together,” she said. “True love. We could have [grown old and] died together. [But] in Israel, he built another life. In scamming, you can’t have any attachments. You have to be able to leave everything at any moment. Well, he cut ties with me.”
Coming to her current standing, Shirley wasn’t kidding in the film when she described herself as a mystery because there doesn’t appear to be any trace of her online at the moment. Therefore, all we know is that she continues to reside in France, where she has moved on with her life to the best of her abilities and is currently working on herself in every way imaginable. Though, she maintains she’s not a criminal, and her stance on money hasn’t changed either. “Money is exciting,” Shirley said in the Netflix original. “It gets my adrenaline going. I don’t get out of bed without money. I need money everywhere.”