It's The General IdeaDressing up as something you’re not in order to scam a bit of extra cash is hardly a new idea. We’ve all heard of conmen who dress up as electricity meter readers to fool unsuspecting pensioners into letting them in their house. And even BBM has fallen foul of a deceptive appearance, notably in Bangkok when we got the ‘lady’ in question back to our hotel.
But a 52-year-old hospital owner in Pakistan has taken con-artistry to new heights after pretending to be a brash army general for three years in order to earn favour from the country’s powerbrokers.
Bluff-master Maqsood Shah was eventually caught near an army area in eastern Karachi as he strolled in uniform to meet a government official in order to clinch approval for an illegal land transfer.
But temporarily forgetting that, in reality, he has zero influence or power in Pakistan, Shah got a bit too into his role and threatened the official – who subsequently tipped off police.
“We have arrested a man who runs a private hospital but has been successfully pretending to be a lieutenant general for three years to grab land and garner undue favours,” a senior police official Ghulam Subhani said.
“We checked him out to confirm that he was a fake and arrested him outside the cantonment … He is the brother of a retired army colonel who is abroad. We found fake military gear, an AK-47 rifle and a Blackberry from his house.”
Police accused Shah of ringing up several provincial cabinet ministers and pretending to be a general in order to solicit “undue favours”.
He even attended the funeral of influential local politician Pir Pagara, paying his respects in uniform without being detected.

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