ON the face of it, it’s just another ordinary neighbours’ dispute.
Now in court, it hinges on skip-loads of wood allegedly stolen from a property development on the Costa del Sol.
However, what makes it a little different is the involvement of a colourful local character, who rides around Mijas dressed as a Red Indian.
Known as ‘el Indio’, Karim Abdul Ismaili, 70, has been accused of stealing €15,255 worth of objects, mainly wooden planks being used at the Altavista development, near the town.
But, other locals warn that he may also be involved in offering colourful investments to unsuspecting expats in the area.
And drilling down into his past, people should certainly be wary.
For Karim – who goes by the name ‘Carim Cherokee’ on Facebook – is a serial fraudster who conned victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in the USA, the Olive Press has discovered.
The pensioner – who is known for his long black hair and feather headdress – was embroiled in a string of fraud cases in the 1980s and 1990s.
He was also involved in a political scandal that rocked the Caribbean Island of Montserrat in the 1980s and briefly led to the arrest of the island’s former chief minister.
During the political saga, that involved theft from a court reporter’s computer, Ismaili was described by lawyer, Leon St. John, in the Florida Sun Sentinel, at the time as ‘the brightest and most enterprising con man I have ever run across’.
Bizarrely, Leon St.John told the Olive Press that he has no recollection of meeting Ismaili. He added that the charges against the former chief minister, Percival Austin Bramble had ‘political motivations’ and said that ‘Ismaili could have been one of the instigators of the set up.’
It came before his conviction in 1986 for mail fraud. Going by his original name ‘Lakbir Moulay Ismaili,’ he scammed manufacturers of customised vans out of $43,210.
In the clever scam, he deposited money that was meant to go towards slick photography for sales brochures into his own bank account.
Moroccan-born Ismaili received a suspended sentence, was fined $1,000 and forced to repay the stolen money.
But then he did it again, this time under a different name, Karim Abdul Ismaili, having legally changed his name in 1990 and set himself up as a financial advisor.
He was convicted at Kansas Court in 2002 of defrauding an American couple of $70,000 to an investor who purportedly wanted to buy their shares in a company.
Ismaili failed to inform them that the investor also owed him $1.2 million.
Which brings us to the present day, with the current court case, which started at Fuengirola Court last year.
In the legal claim, seen by the Olive Press, the manager of the Altavista development, Antonio Navas, claims Ismaili stole the wood for his five bedroom luxury mansion, also in the Valtocado area, with 360 views and a swimming pool.
It came when a gardener at the site claimed to have spotted Ismaili and another man loading planks of wood into a 4×4 in June 2018 and informed Navas who contacted police.
He then filed a denuncia to the Guardia Civil in Fuengirola against Ismaili a few days later, with the initial court hearing in July, that year.
Ramirez also revealed that Ismaili told him he was friends with senior USA judges and on first name terms with high profile political figures, including the Clintons.
“He all the time was saying that he was a very close friend of Bill Clinton,” said Ramirez.
The Altavista plot manager added that he does not know what he is ‘able to believe or not,’ about Ismaili, whose hair he says is a wig.
Ismaili now lives with his partner Carmen Beneyto Simon, who works in the Mijas tourism office. He refers to her on social media as ‘la diosa’ (the goddess) and runs an export business called ‘La Diosa del Carmen’ from the couple’s home in Mijas.
It also claims to have offices in Palm Beach, Florida, where Ismaili used to live.
While Ismaili’s Mijas mansion has 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside, he appears to have kept a relatively low profile since moving into the house in spring 2014.
A few neighbours could point to where he lived but didn’t know anything else about him. A woman at a local estate agents said he ‘rides horses’ through Mijas Pueblo.
When the Olive Press tried to talk to Ismaili about the claims, he refused to comment.
He did however contact Altavista manager Navas claiming we had firstly demanded money from him and then sent him various threatening messages.
He later insisted by email that one of his workers took a single plank of wood worth €60 accidentally.
“The worker returned that wood to Altavista in the presence of the Guardia Civil and explained that he did not know were [sic] was the line between the property and Altavista’s,” said Ismaili.
Do you know Karim? Have you had any dealings with him? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org