US Cops Nab International Chameleon Conman

Smooth-talking Colombian scammed luxury hotels in many countries
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2009 6:14 AM CDT
This April 2005 file photo released by London's Metropolitan Police shows Colombian Juan Carlos Guzman-Betancourt at Southwark Crown Court in London.    (AP Photo/Metropolitan Police)

(Newser) – A Colombian fraudster wanted in seven countries has been arrested after entering the US from Canada on a phony passport. Juan Carlos Guzman-Betancourt, known to have at least 10 aliases, made his living scamming luxury hotels, often pretending to be a guest who had forgotten the combination to his safe before making off with the safe's contents.

Guzman-Betancourt's first known scam came in 1993, when he pretended to be a 13-year-old Cuban orphan who came to Miami hanging onto a plane's landing gear. Gifts and donations poured in before it came to light that he was 17 and his parents were still very much alive. He was jailed for theft in Britain in 2005 but escaped after talking prison authorities into letting him go to a dental appointment unaccompanied.