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Teen con artist strikes again


Taipei - A Taiwanese teenager who gained notoriety when he tried to con ex-president Chen Shui-bian was indicted on Tuesday for allegedly swindling over $150 000 from American Express, prosecutors said.

Huang Chao-kang, 18, was suspected of forging documents to pose as the son of a local tycoon to obtain the exclusive Centurion Card, also known as the black card, from American Express in March, according to the indictment.

It said that Huang, also known as Huang Chi, allegedly charged and claimed more than $150 000 on the card via a dummy company he had set up before he was arrested in May.

He was charged with fraud and forgery in the indictment, which also included an additional charge for scamming $67 000 from a local woman using the same son-of-a-tycoon trick.

Huang entered the limelight in 2008 when he was arrested on forgery charges after appearing on television to boast about conning former president Chen by posing as a fortune teller.

The case caused a media sensation in Taiwan and brought comparisons with Leonardo DiCaprio's character in 2002's “Catch Me If You Can,” with newspapers saying the then 16-year-old had used multiple identities in a series of cons.

The ex-leader has denied that Huang read tarot cards for him but accused the teenager of trying to swindle money from him by arranging a ritual with three bogus Buddhist monks.

In further echoes of “Catch Me If You Can,” based on the life of American teen swindler Frank Abagnale Jr, reports have also said Huang never went to high school and is estranged from his parents.

A juvenile court put Huang on probation for the previous forgery charges as he was a minor at that time. - Sapa-AFP


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