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Thierry Tilly: The Famous Con Man of Monflanquin

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Read on to learn about how a Frenchman brought an aristocratic family under his thumb.

Read on to learn about how a Frenchman brought an aristocratic family under his thumb.

Unique Case of Manipulation

A French aristocratic family was manipulated by a con man named Thierry Tilly. Eleven members of the family of notable aristocrats suffered from mental influence for nearly 10 years. The con man made them believe that they were threatened by a conspiracy.

He was so cunning that he extorted nearly 4.5 million euros from them between 2000 to 2009. Mr. Tilly met with a family member of the de Vedrines family and managed to meet other family members. He used his silver tongue to persuade the de Vedrines that their lives were in danger and also informed them that he was the only one who could save them.

It seems like the plot of a mediocre Hollywood movie, but it isn't. This one French con artist had the entire Vedrine family under his thumb.

The Vedrines Family

The Vedrines are a noble aristocratic family that comes from a Protestant family established in Agencies. Guillemette de Vedrines, who was born in 1912, has three children: Philippe de Vedrines, Ghislaine de Vedrines, and Charles-Henri de Vedrines.

Philippe worked for an oil company. At the time of the event, he was in his sixties and lived with his wife, Brigitte Loriot-Martin. Ghislaine was running a secretarial school in Paris. She was married to an economic journalist and has two children. Charles-Henri was an obstetrician in Bordeaux and married Christine, who was a documentarian by profession.

The Village of Monflanquin, France

The Village of Monflanquin, France

The Con Man

The con man, Thierry Tilly, was born in Boise-Columbus, a city northwest of Paris. He led a relatively normal life, and after high school, he enrolled in college to study law. Unfortunately, his ambitions of becoming a lawyer were dashed when he dropped out just a few months after enrolling.

Despite the 35-year-old Tilly's raspy voice and pasty face, he married a woman named Jessica Diener, who was a model. During his first meeting with Guislaine, he appeared to be a very confident guy, perhaps another con artist trick.

Two of his former associates also claimed that Tilly had defrauded them.

The Encounter

It was Ghislaine who first met with Tilly. She gave him a job as a deputy director. Eventually, he became her right hand, and she introduced him to the rest of the family. She shared every detail about the family and their property with Tilly. After winning the hearts of other family members, he offered to become their financial adviser.

Tilly presented himself as a descendant of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg nobility and claimed that his communist grandmother had "salons" with former socialist president François Mitterrand. And they all believed him.

Tale of Manipulation

He became the right hand man of the aristocratic family. After taking all of them under his spell, Tilly started his manipulation, which seemed to be already scripted in his mind. He claimed that the Vedrines were soon to become the victims of conspiracies. In September 2001, he persuaded eleven members of the group to seek refuge in their family castle in Monflanquin for their safety.

Jean Marchand (Ghislaine's husband) was left out by their relatives, whom Tilly revealed to be a partner of their enemies. The 11 family members included grandmother Guillemette, the matriarch, who was 88 years old at the time, her three children (two sons and one daughter), two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren.

As per Thierry Tilly's script, Ghislaine and her family's lives might be in danger; he convinced them that the Freemasons were focused on getting their land. And Tilly did appear to have some knowledge of the dark side. And when they asked Tilly about the field he had worked in before, he answered with one palm raised, "Do not inquire. I cannot discuss it."

Changed Behavior of the Family

The neighbors of the Vedrine family said that they were living a pretty normal life before they met with Mr. Tilly. The Vedrines were a well-liked and well-respected family. It was mid-2001 when the 11 members cut their ties with all of their friends and family.

The family began to shun neighbors, friends, and even their spouses and children. On January 4, 2002, a neighbor came to see what was wrong. They didn't open the door. She looked through the window and saw them all sitting motionless in the dark. No one was allowed to visit their house. If someone tried to enter through the gate, they started shouting and even attacked some visitors.

According to Ghislaine's husband Marchand, Thierry Tilly was a kind of "brain burglar." He opened their heads, removed their brains, replaced them, and put up new ones.

Consequences

Since all the Vedrine family quit their jobs, they stopped paying taxes. In 2003, the tax authority seized their property's furniture. Tilly managed to convince the family to sign over all their property to him. Meanwhile, after 2001, Tilly was nowhere to be found; he was giving them orders from a distance, and they were all acting like puppets in his hands.

Ghislaine's husband was the only one in the family who was able to get out of the trap. He tried to alert the authorities, but Vedrines kicked him out of the castle.

When Thierry ran into significant legal problems in France, he began shifting his base to England. Philippe de Védrines and his wife left the group in February 2008. Tilly forced the other nine Vedrines to move to Oxford.

Thierry's family and the Vedrines were living together in Oxford. The aristocrats were now penniless. Christine worked as a caterer's salesperson, and Charles-Henri, the former obstetrician, had to work as a gardener; their salaries went into Tilly's account.

Physical Abuse

Of all that was done to the Vedrines, the most serious was the physical abuse of Christine (the wife of Charles Henry). Tilly convinced the Vedrines that Christine would hide a treasure from them. One of the family members tied her to a stool for two weeks and prevented her from sleeping.

With the help of her employer, Robert Pouget, Christine was able to leave Oxford. He listened to her entire story of torture and the endless list of family possessions that had been lost. In March 2009, she arrived in Bordeaux and met with the lawyer Danial Picotin, where she told her story.

The Trial

Tilly's good fortune was about to end. The French government brought charges against Thierry Tilly in response to claims of torture and abuse. He was a target ever since Christine gave her testimony. When Tilly traveled to Zurich on October 21, 2009, he was arrested, and the events that followed quickly brought the Vedrines back together.

He has been prosecuted by the French justice system for abuse, fraud, kidnapping with torture, and fraud. In 2012, he received an eight-year prison term and was ordered to compensate his victims. Jacques Gonzalez, his accomplice, was sentenced to four years in prison. Tilly's sentence was raised to 10 years in jail following an appeal in 2013.

The Master Manipulator

Quick Facts

  • Ghislaine de Vedrine denounced her husband, Jean Marchand, under the influence of the con man.
  • Jean Marchand found an email from Thierry to Ghislaine that included the following instructions: "Throw the glove and flowers his way to inform him that these are indications that his network is evil and give him 30 minutes to pack."
  • Philippe de Vedrines and Brigitte Loriot-Martin (the elder son and daughter-in-law) left the group in 2008 and refused to go to Oxford with Tilly.
  • The conman had taken everything from Christine—her engagement ring, the poems and notes to her late parents, and the Mother's Day cards from her children. All these things were in a suitcase taken to Oxford.
  • The television film Wicked Game is about an out-of-the-way French family who is swayed by a manipulator. The year 1997 served as the backdrop for the film, right around the time Mr. Tilly first met the Vedrines.

© 2023 EK Jadoon