An unemployed Paris barman was under arrest today after claiming he fathered 55 African babies so as to allow their mothers to move to France on full benefits.
The scam is said to have cost the country more than a million pounds in fraudulent social security payments.
It involved a 54-year-old Frenchman who cannot be named for legal reasons but who has a Sengalese background.
He faces up to 10 years in prison and five figure fines after being charged with making false paternity declarations and aiding and abetting the filing of false administrative documents.
However, he claims that the children are in fact his, and had agreed to DNA tests.
The man’s allegedly extraordinary love life saw him registering the 55 women and their children at his two bedroom flat in a flat near the Gare du Nord Eurostar terminal in Paris.
He is said to have ‘romanced’ some of them after meeting them in bars, discos, and even ‘on the street’ of Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, which gained independence from France and Britain in the early 1960s.
Others met up with the man in Senegal, the former French colony. Some are said to have paid him for his services, while others are said to have had a genuine personal relationship.
‘Some were claiming up to 7,500 euros (£6,200) a month in various social security benefits,’ added a detective close to the case.
‘They were making a fortune, yet their only link to France was claims that they were involved with a man who had at least 55 children.
‘It cost the man around 150 euros (£124) to register each of his partners and their babies, meaning the potential profits were absolutely enormous.
‘There is no evidence that the man was actually living with any of his families. All of this has cost the state well over a million euros.’
All of the documents registering the women and their children were seized by police during a raid on the suspect’s flat on August 31.
Detectives had been tipped off about the fraud as early as December 2009, but were not granted a search warrant until last month when the man was arrested for an unconnected offence.
‘He is currently undergoing DNA tests to see how many of the 55 babies are genuinely his,’ said the police source.
‘It may be that he is the biological father of some or even all. The man has no job at the moment, but has worked in bars in Paris and in Afria.’
The women, aged between 25- and 50-years old, face deportation if they are found guilty of obtaining administrative documents illegally, or abetting a fraudulent declaration of paternity.
Of 17 women tracked down so far, all are claiming that the man was genuinely the father of their children.
The man, who is thought to be a bachelor who has never been married before, is now set to be released on bail.
Strict conditions will include a night time curfew, visiting a police station every day, and not contacting any of his alleged lovers.
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