“Who’s Swagg Man?” the 36-year-old rapper currently wanted by the law poses the question to himself in a text to me. “I was born an artist … Swagg Man is a fictif [fictional] guy. Same like all artist[s].” 

I’ve been trying to talk to Swagg Man for weeks. He says we will meet in Paris; then he says Miami, where he can show me his car collection. Finally, unable to get him to fix a time and place, we speak for two hours via Zoom. He claims that this is his first time speaking to the press in six years, though even that is questionable. 

Facing me in sunglasses and a backward black baseball cap, he’s a charismatic figure. In his music videos, he comes across as handsome and lithe, in high-gloss designer wear and bejeweled accessories, striking poses, moving and dancing fluidly, often breaking into a raucous, almost delirious laugh, his klieg-light smile lighting up against his countless tats. In person, he is far calmer, speaking in a smoothly pleasing tenor that registers far higher in his songs. 

“I never do something for the money,” Swagg Man insists to me. When someone says it’s not for the money, it’s usually for the money. And few people love money like Swagg Man. In post after post, he caresses cash, licks his piles of jewels, and dances on his Bentley and his Lambo. “I do something for the pleasure,” he continues, “for the passion first, and the money comes after.”

But where exactly does Swagg Man, whose real name is Iteb Zaibet, get his money? That question has long dogged him. He stands accused of stealing or embezzling around $10 million over the past decade. He has allegedly scammed his own fans, his friends, and even a Swiss bank. The quest to untangle the real Swagg Man from the fictional artist has set off a global financial and legal brawl spreading to Switzerland, Tunisia, America, France, and the music industry that continues today. And the people and events involved shine a light on some of the complexities of class around the world — and the blinding allure of social media fame and wealth. They also reveal a great deal about the art of the con.

It should be said that Swagg Man denies the charges — every accusation, of which there are many. He calls those complaining against him “fake victims.” He warns me, “Don’t listen to internet gossip.” In fact, he claims that all his legal troubles can be traced to just a single enemy, a person he calls a “stalker.” He’s a French Tunisian businessman living in Paris named Tarak Cheikh-Rouhou. Swagg Man writes to me: “I don’t understand why this man … has a hate against me. I’ve never met him; I’ve never spoken to him; I’ve never even written to him.” 

But Cheikh-Rouhou says he’s on a crusade to stop someone he considers a dangerous con man: “Swagg Man is a scoundrel. And I hate scoundrels.”

Swagg Man’s hip-hop recordings have streamed more than 70 million times. But his alleged criminal enterprise long ago overshadowed his music. As we’ve talked over the past several months, an international warrant went out for his arrest. But he becomes incensed that I even bother asking him about the many allegations of swindles, frauds, and embezzlement that have swirled about him for years.

“Someone who started making music from 2009,” he texts me, “who had millions of views, who had millions of streams, who had hundreds of concerts, who had hundreds of partnerships, who created a clothing brand, which created a language specific to itself, which on top of that, this same person speaks several languages and sings in several languages so reaches more people, how do you want this person to remain poor? How can this person not be able to make money? You have to stop at some point!! We have to stop inventing lives!!” 

AMONG SWAGG MAN’S accusers is a French youth extreme-sports coach who was in his early twenties when he began to follow Swagg Man online. That was about a decade ago. He is 32 years old now and lives in a small city in central France. He prefers to remain anonymous, but he’s gone by the pseudonym Pierre in the French media. I can tell you Pierre has broken his collarbone five times pursuing his sport.

At the time he met Swagg Man, the rapper was seemingly everywhere in French-language media. A hip-hop artist of indeterminate French and Arabic origins, he rapped in French, Arabic, English, and a little Spanish. His songs had already streamed tens of millions of times and had more than 30 million views on YouTube. He was by the early 2010s the sort of entertainer who had figured out the attention economy, combining the stylized, heavily tattooed look of a North African Arabic Post Malone with a mania for bundles of money and all it buys. 

SWAGG STYLE: Designer clothes and jewels are part of the rapper’s appeal.

On a late-November morning in 2014, after a night of heavy partying, Pierre scrolled through Swagg Man’s Facebook page. He read a comment viciously trolling the rapper, calling him “a son of a whore.” Swagg Man, who was 27 years old at the time, was widely reported to have lost his parents as a young child. “I did, too,” Pierre tells me. On the spur of the moment, still a little toasted, he messaged Swagg Man. “Ignore the insults,” Pierre says he commiserated in the message. “Don’t let them get you down.”

To his surprise, a few hours later Swagg Man messaged him back. “It’s your lucky day!” the rapper proclaimed buoyantly, according to Pierre. “It’s going to be the best day of your life.” Less than six months earlier, Swagg Man had released his first album. His songs were getting airtime on French hip-hop stations; he was appearing on talk shows. He seemed to be living large in Miami, traveling frequently to France to record interviews and videos, and vacationing in Tunisia, where he held dual French and Tunisian citizenship. 

Swagg Man’s music videos from around that time show him cruising and rapping, wearing high fashion and piles of gold and diamonds, driving in a white Bentley or various Lambos through South Beach, tossing around cash like confetti, and looking out from the back of a limousine rolling through a glittering Paris at night. 

In his 2014 release “Billey,” a slang spelling of the French word for cash, he raps out one luxury brand name after another: Louis, Louboutin, Versace, Bentley, Lambo, Cartier, Vacheron, and on and on. He was apparently living the life of a very rich man. Pierre tells me, “I’m not much for luxury, but he seemed to have a fine life.”

The two exchanged more messages. At one point, Swagg Man’s new friend told him he was looking to buy a small building as an investment, hoping for a better life, maybe a little more like the rap artist’s. Swagg Man asked for Pierre’s telephone number. He called. He said he had a way for his new friend to triple his money. Fast. 

More conversations ensued, sometimes several calls a day. Pierre was charmed by Swagg Man — “He made me laugh,” Pierre says. “I found him funny.” That went on for months. Swagg Man encouraged Pierre to invest, vowing that “it could not fail.” If the impossible happened, Swagg Man promised, he would make him whole. 

“I let myself be tempted.”

“Swagg Man is a scoundrel,” says Tarak Cheikh-Rouhou, who is on a crusade to stop the rapper. “And I hate scoundrels.”

SWAGG MAN’S LONGTIME VIDEOGRAPHER, Lorenzo Vanin, says he “was one of the first to put himself on the internet in France.” With more than 200 music videos and countless Instagram posts, Swagg Man tells me he has presented “60 percent” of his life online. And money has figured in his online existence from the start. 

His rise to fame began by burning money. Literally. He shot a poor-quality video around 2009 in which he set fire to multiple €500 notes — what looks to be a few thousand euros in all — on a street in Paris while onlookers gaped. Swagg Man claims the millions who watched the video made him enough money to begin recording music videos. Eventually he was able to launch his Swaggman World Music Entertainment production company. “If you don’t have the money, nobody can watch you,” he says. 

Swagg Man tells me his steady production of videos and brand sponsorships began bringing in anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 each (numbers I couldn’t verify). He released two albums, 2014’s Swagg Man Posey and 2015’s MST, and went on tour, performing at clubs in French-speaking lands. Neither album sold particularly well, even in France.

Online, though, he took off, thanks to his outrageous Swagg Man persona. Since he released Swagg Man Posey, his songs have streamed more than 73 million times, according to DistroKid. Although he has released a few English-language rap songs, he never fully crossed over to wider audiences. (He tells me three of his songs have gone gold streaming to American listeners — but that isn’t true.)

LUSH LIFE Swagg Man shows off cash and watches on social media

Courtesy of Swagg Man

Swagg Man did seem to have the French and Arabic youth beat down. He claimed he came from the streets and rapped about his immense fortune. In a world in which the deck is generally stacked against people like him, a rigged game he wasn’t destined to win, somehow Swagg Man made it. 

He even started his own fashion line, branded Posey Bro, pronounced “posé.” He says to me, “ ‘Posey Bro’ is a word I invented in France. [It] means, ‘I’m quietly sitting doing nothing, my brother.’ ” He claims to have become an ambassador for multiple luxury brands and tattooed himself with Versace, Louis Vuitton, and MCM logos. But inquiries to those and other luxury companies about sponsorship deals with him brought no replies. 

His apparently self-made fortune and spectacular excess made him an object of media fascination in francophone Europe, and North Africa, too. In a 2015 interview, Swagg Man told the august Le Monde, France’s equivalent of The New York Times, that his real name is “Rayan Sanches” and that his Tunisian-Jewish mother and Brazilian father abandoned him as a child on the streets and that he cycled through foster homes after that. He said he DJ’d big-money gigs in Dubai, bought his first Rolex at age 20, acquired properties, built a production business, made music, and produced his videos. While appearing on France’s Canal Plus television in 2016, he insisted that his most meaningful goal in flaunting his lifestyle is to prove that “anyone can make it,” an uncommon notion in stay-in-your-lane France. 

During his rise, Swagg Man has repeated that origin story several times. And he’s inked it on his body, too. Tats from skull to toe make him look like a living cross between a Cy Twombly scribble painting and a Basquiat graffiti canvas. 

“Each tattoo represents a very specific moment in my life,” he tells me. Among the moments they signify are his first million dollars and his first car. He has transformed his shaved scalp into an LV-logo handbag and covered his face with lipstick smooches, phrases, and swirling designs. 

“All those tattoos I got on my face,” he writes me, “were made so that I couldn’t look like who I was anymore.” 

English script across his forehead reads: “Everyday is my birthday.” He explains to me, “And every day is really my birthday. Because everyday u are blessed, everyday you [are] reborn again.”

If you live your life wearing a mask, you can become anyone you want to be. 

Again and again.

LOTS OF RAPPERS invent personas. It goes hand in glove with the business. But Swagg Man never dropped his mask, even when he seemed to offer an intimate glimpse of the “real” person behind it to his fans. 

“He’s a great actor,” Pierre says. “He has been playing a role his whole life.” The stories Swagg Man told Le Monde about his birth and childhood, even his name, are fabrications. In reality, he now admits to me, Iteb Zaibet was born in Nice, France, to parents who emigrated from Tunisia. Swagg Man says that as a child he and his father had problems, leading to their estrangement. He left home and spent time with another family — he won’t tell me much about them, just that they became his surrogate family. 

That family called him “Rayan Sanches,” he says. He claims that is the name he has on his U.S. green card and that he’s legally changing his name to it, “because my first and last name remind me of too much suffering.” He says that he no longer has any contact with people in Nice.

But still, even now, he is apparently twisting the truth into knots. Photographs from about a decade ago show a smiling Swagg Man with his father and with his twin sister. 

A French Italian journalist and author, Oli Porri Santoro, was among the first to report on these controversies surrounding Swagg Man’s life. Porri Santoro grew up near Swagg Man in what he describes as a “poor,” sometimes “dangerous” neighborhood in Nice, and the journalist has spoken to Swagg Man’s best friend from childhood and to his twin sister. 

Porri Santoro tells me that Swagg Man has an older brother and two other sisters and that Swagg Man’s father and mother divorced at some point, and his mother raised him and his siblings in the family home in Nice, where she continues to live. Porri Santoro says Swagg Man remains in touch with his father, Hamadi Zaibet, who lives in Tunisia. But a 2019 interview in Arabic with his father posted online includes a French translation of him saying that he does not understand his son’s “mythomania.” 

When I try to ask Swagg Man about the sketchy, contradictory details of his past, all he’ll say is, “It’s private.”

BOTTOMS UP Excess is key to Swagg Man’s public persona.

Frederic Andrieu/Imagebuzz/BestImage

What he wants to talk about is that he was a good dancer as a child, loved music, and “learned to play instruments thanks to the streets.” But he says he stumbled into trouble early on. He claims that he got busted for possession of cocaine around age 18 or 19, though he denies to me ever using it, insisting he carried the coke solely to “flirt with a woman.” By his account, he spent eight months of a two-and-a-half-year sentence in Nanterre prison, outside Paris. But Porri Santoro believes all of this is also made up. Truth with Swagg Man is fluid.

In any case, Swagg Man claims that while doing time he underwent an epiphany that transformed him. It was, he claims, seeing the movie Scarface that changed his life. 

“I saw that film, and I said, ‘Wow, wow, wow!’ If he came to the U.S.A., without money, and right now he’s a billionaire, if he can do that, I can do that. But I can do that legally,” he emphasizes. “Not illegally.”

It’s a strange interpretation of Scarface to ignore Tony Montana’s drug-fueled, violent criminality. But Swagg Man insists to me later via WhatsApp, “If I live SCARFACE [his emphasis], it’s because he [has] a message: Believe [in] yourself and never give up.”

Swagg Man says he served a second, shorter term for burning the cash in that 2009 video, an act illegal enough to count as a parole violation, at least according to him. Twenty-four hours after his release, he remembers going to Miami to see if he could live his own version of Scarface. “Let’s start a new life,” he told himself. He had keys and the word “Libertad,” for freedom, tattooed on his face. “Let’s accept to be reborn,” he declares to me.

In September 2015, Swagg Man married Lolita Rebulard, a French woman three years younger than him, in Miami Beach. According to journalist Porri Santoro, she may be “the boss” behind the schemes tied to Swagg Man. But Swagg Man insists Rebulard is “a girl from a good family who has never caused anyone a problem, but with whom I am no longer, unfortunately.” 

When I ask him to put me in touch with Rebulard, Swagg Man says, “I am not in contact with her.” (Rebulard did not respond to Rolling Stone’s requests for comment.) 

However, according to property documents, Swagg Man and Rebulard share control of a company called Luxury Properties, holding deeds on two apartments in Miami luxury high-rises their company purchased in 2022, allegedly with money they embezzled.

TO SOME FOLLOWERS, Swagg Man’s displays of outsize wealth symbolized a life they wanted. And because he was celebrated in the media, he seemed like someone who could be trusted. Pierre, the French former youth-extreme sports coach who reached out to him after the insult about being an orphan, ultimately agreed to Swagg Man’s offers to invest money on his behalf. Pierre says Swagg Man insisted that he deliver the money — 25,000 euros — in cash. On Dec. 16, 2014, Pierre took a three-hour train ride to Paris to meet Swagg Man in a hotel near the Gare de Lyon, court documents show. They chatted. Swagg Man invited Pierre to try on his jewelry. And his fan handed over an envelope of cash. 

A few weeks later, according to court documents, Swagg Man called Pierre to say he had not only succeeded in tripling his original investment but also had tripled that sum, for a total payout of a quarter-million euros. Before passing on the earnings, Swagg Man said Pierre had to first pay the 15,000-euro tax on the 235,000-euro gain. “I didn’t have that much,” Pierre recalls. “He asked how much I had and said he would make up the difference.” 

Pierre sent 8,900 euros to Swagg Man in Miami via Western Union in the fall of 2015, according to court filings. “He played me,” Pierre says. 

After several more months of waiting and increasingly vague promises from Swagg Man that he would soon get his money, Pierre saw a post online describing someone in a similar financial situation with Swagg Man. Pierre contacted the poster, and she told him her story. Pierre finally realized, “He was a con man.”

But Swagg Man continued to reach new people willing to trust him with their money, like the former sports trainer I spoke to from a town north of Paris. The trainer asked to remain anonymous, so I’ll call him Jean. Jean was 22 years old when he reached out to Swagg Man. He didn’t particularly consider himself a fan but was looking for ways to make enough money to help his brother with a medical treatment. Seeing Swagg Man’s obvious great wealth, Jean contacted him on May 11, 2015, asking for suggestions about ways to make more money fast, according to court documents. Swagg Man replied, and they Skyped.

“I laughed with him,” Jean says now. “He seemed to be a friend. I thought there was more to him.” Swagg Man promised to help Jean find “the best doctors” for his brother and invited him to meet at the luxurious hotel Le Meurice in Paris to discuss investing with him. Jean says he agreed to wire 5,000 euros to Swagg Man’s designated recipient, and that Swagg Man “promised me things that make one dream.” 

But over the next several months, Swagg Man rarely responded to Jean’s messages until, in June 2017, the trainer says, Swagg Man wrote a pleading message that he was in prison for unspecified reasons and needed 2,000 euros to regain his freedom. “I feared I’d never get my money back,” Jean says. So he wired the money to Swagg Man. 

Then came another request for more help resolving legal troubles. On Sept. 12, 2017, Jean wired along another 2,230 euros. Caught up in the cycle of promises, problems, and money wired away, Jean explains that he felt lost, “like gears turning within gears,” good money chasing bad. After the fourth time giving Swagg Man money, “he disappeared.” Finally, Jean says, “I knew it was a con. Everything became clear. Years of savings gone. I wanted to help my brother. I was devastated.”

Numerous others have shared similar stories online, of following Swagg Man and then reaching out to him, meeting him, seemingly becoming his friend, always the laughter and confidential glimpses into his life, followed by the invitation to have a piece in ultra-high-return investments — usually secret, though sometimes cryptocurrency — that had made him wealthy. Then watching him vanish from contact. But the true number of victims and total amounts swindled are impossible to tally. 

“He’s a great actor,” says an alleged victim. “He has been playing a role his whole life.”

Cheikh-Rouhou says that most of the alleged victims tell him they handed Swagg Man cash, making it virtually impossible to prove, and many remain too poor to mount the complex legal fight to recover their money. 

It wasn’t just his own fans whom Swagg Man was allegedly swindling, though. His largest strike came from a connection made deep on the dark web that led to the attempted looting of some 15 million dollars from a Swiss bank. 

THE FORMER SWISS BANKER asks that I not use his real name. He recalls that in 2018 he was “in big financial distress” and “depressed.” Thirty-one years old at the time, he says, “I needed to do something about my life.” He was a client adviser for Raiffeisen Bank, Switzerland’s third-largest bank. In that position, he says, “I knew which clients would have been more suitable [for embezzling] because of their habits — and wealth, of course.” 

Shortly before Christmas, the banker copied out a few clients’ online-banking-access information and passwords. Having alerted the clients to a system upgrade that would shut down their online access, on Dec. 20, he says, “I disabled those e-banking accesses and made the wire transfers.” 

On Dec. 21, he sent the money to two recipients he’d met on the dark web who agreed to launder it for him, less a commission. The banker didn’t know who they were — and recognized the risks in working with people he’d never met. “I had many, many red flags already in the first messages from Zaibet.” But he was desperate. 

Money was siphoned out of the Raiffeisen clients’ accounts electronically in two directions: $6 million to a private account in Tunisia and roughly $9 million to the SunTrust Bank account of Luxury Properties. From there, the recipients promised, money would arrive in untraceable bitcoins waiting for the banker in Panama. 

The next day, he flew to Panama thinking his new life was just over the horizon. But as often happens, unanticipated circumstances tripped up the crook. A customer happened to go to a Raiffeisen branch to make an unrelated transaction; by chance, he discovered $3 million was missing from his account. The bank shortly found all the other illegal transactions. The funds wired to the Luxury Properties account in Florida were stopped and rerouted back to Raiffeisen. But the money sent to Zaibet’s personal account in Tunisia arrived. 

Alerted to a possible crime, the Tunisian central bank blocked his account until the matter could get clarified.

Swagg Man continues to contest the reason he received the Swiss bank accounts’ funds. He insists that the millions came to him when he was acting as a middleman in a legitimate “commercial transaction.”

Trapped in Panama, the banker turned himself in to authorities. As he flew back to face charges of bank theft, for which he eventually received a five-and-a-half-year sentence, Swagg Man was in Miami. But he would shortly make a move to Los Angeles, where he would embark on the biggest opportunity of his musical career. 

FOR THE RECORD With producer Brian Kennedy at his L.A. studio


HAZEY “HAZE” TAUGHTME, owner of Haze Ent., an entertainment management and marketing firm, was on tour with some of his clients at a Miami show where he met Swagg Man in January 2019. “Swagg seen we had real motion,” Taughtme says. “I only knew him as an artist who wanted to get real music.… I wanted to help Swagg Man cross over. And he said he had the budget.”

With Taughtme organizing the session, Swagg Man headed to L.A. in March to record a six-to-eight-song EP at the famous Record Plant recording studios. Brian Kennedy, a Grammy Award-nominated producer and songwriter of hits by Rihanna, Chris Brown, Jennifer Hudson, and many others, was producing the project. Taughtme says Swagg Man’s EP had as its working title — appropriately enough — Change the Face. Swagg Man was on the cusp of achieving an ultimate artistic dream.

But that dream cost plenty. At $3,000 a day for a week in the studio, Taughtme says, plus $25,000 upfront for Kennedy’s time, plus tens of thousands more to keep up his image and his hip-hop lifestyle, Swagg Man was likely burning through money.He flew off to Tunisia in April 2019. Taughtme says Swagg Man told him he’d been booked to appear on a popular Tunisian talk and variety show, contending that an appearance, according to Taughtme, would double his social media following in the country. 

Swagg Man says to me, however, that he traveled to Tunisia at the behest of his lawyer there, who said he needed to answer the money-laundering complaint. “I was not afraid because I have nothing to hide,” he insists.

He nevertheless appeared on the Arabic-language television show, pose-y as usual. He protested against the Tunisian authorities’ accusation that millions from the Raiffeisen Bank were not his own. But he tells me, “when I exposed the problem with the government trying to rob my money,” within a few days his “nightmare” began. The Tunisian justice ministry continued to hold the money and barred him from leaving the country. He insists, “It’s all about the money. It’s all about the money.” In July 2019, he was jailed on charges of money laundering.

While languishing in prison, his troubles compounded. Twenty victims of Swagg Man’s schemes pressed charges against him in a Tunisian court — with many traveling to Tunisia to testify. People in the group — from France, Belgium, Canada, Tunisia, Switzerland, and Algeria — claimed he stole the equivalent of more than $1.5 million from them, including one victim who lost 800,000 euros.

Many of the victims confronted Swagg Man at pretrial hearings. When Pierre stood before him, the rapper claimed he’d “never seen me before,” Pierre remembers. “I promised I would never let him go.” 

Jean, the trainer who wanted to make money to help his sick brother, traveled to Tunisia, too. In October 2019, he finally stood before Swagg Man. “He cried,” Jean recalls. “He knew he was going to prison. I had all the proof.” But due to Covid, the 20 victims pressing charges would have to wait months for a final judgment — and then justice would be even further delayed.

Even now, Swagg Man insists that these were all “false victims … convinced to come and file a complaint” against him. They are part of a conspiracy to swindle him out of his money, in a scheme cooked up, he insists, by one man: Tarak Cheikh-Rouhou.

Cheikh-Rouhou initially sympathized with Swagg Man.

Courtesy of Tarak Cheikh-Rouhou

Swagg Man and Cheikh-Rouhou could not be more different for similarly aged French men of Tunisian origins. The 39-year-old Cheikh-Rouhou comes from a storied Tunisian family on his father’s side. (His mother is from Vietnam.) His grandfather fought against the French colonial occupation and founded a resistance newspaper that continues to publish in Tunisia. After a Tunisian dictator forced the family into exile, they settled in France. 

“I grew up in an aristocratic family,” Cheikh-Rouhou says, “but we left Tunisia quickly. My father was afraid for his family. We left everything.” Cheikh-Rouhou was educated in France in business and computer science and now invests and operates small companies in France and Tunisia, and works as a public-affairs consultant. When I spoke to him via Zoom in his Paris apartment, he wore a silk cravat around his neck. Art was on the walls behind him, and he showed me terrace views of the rooftops of Paris.

Despite the immense cultural gulf between them, Cheikh-Rouhou says that he initially felt sympathy for Swagg Man after watching him on that 2019 Tunisian TV show. “Everybody was talking about him,” Cheikh-Rouhou recalls, switching between French and fluent English. He remembers Swagg Man saying on the show that he wanted to get the millions of dollars from his blocked account to build a hotel, orphanage, and mosque in the country. Cheikh-Rouhou tells me he was scandalized that Swagg Man was being targeted when he was just trying to help his country. Corruption was rampant in Tunisia, where democracy remains fragile, and he believed a government seizure of private funds on trumped-up pretenses was entirely plausible. Cheikh-Rouhou says, “I just wanted to help him.” He knew people in the government who could possibly intervene. But, he says, “the people I contacted said, ‘He is not what he says he is on television.’ ” Cheikh-Rouhou started investigating.

He quickly realized, “he attacked victims.” Cheikh-Rouhou now believes “he must be stopped. There are too many victims, too many poor victims who lost everything.” 

For his part, Swagg Man claims Cheikh-Rouhou “orchestrated” the entire effort to scorch his name in order to “blackmail” him for money. 

Cheikh-Rouhou says he feels personally affronted at Swagg Man’s having brought dishonor upon Tunisia, a poor nation he says but one rich in cultural heritage. “Tunisia is a small country. Everybody knows each other. If you see the son of someone you know doing bad things, would you give him a spanking?” 

And Cheikh-Rouhou agrees that he is trying to bring Swagg Man down: “Yes, I admit to having helped dozens of people … by convincing them to take legal action in Tunisia.” Reaching out to as many victims as he could find willing to go public with their tales, he formed and supported the victims’ consortium, called Swag Auxilium. He persuaded and aided the victims in pursuing charges in Tunisia. He also started posting online materials about Swagg Man’s alleged crimes and went to the press, resulting in multiple articles that appeared in French and North African media reporting on the accusations against Swagg Man. 

After that, “I was raped by the media,” Swagg Man says.

In March 2021, while still being held in a Tunisian prison, Swagg Man was tried and found guilty of money laundering in the Raiffeisen Bank embezzlement case. He was sentenced to five years in prison. In the meantime, the charges brought by the members of the Swag Auxilium association slowly worked their way through the Tunisian justice system.

But even before then, Swagg Man was on to his next alleged con.

Swagg Man, shown with Lolita Rebulard.

in april 2020, with her husband in legal limbo in Tunisia, Lolita Rebulard was introduced by a mutual acquaintance, a lawyer working on Swagg Man’s behalf, to an older French husband-and-wife team who own and operate businesses in Tunisia. Embarrassed by their experience, they ask that I not identify them by name, so I’ll call them Hugo and Catherine. I spoke to them in French at their home in Tunisia with their lawyer, Wassim Benzarti. Rebulard told the couple about her husband’s troubles. The three of them could see the possibilities for working with Swagg Man to leverage what he claimed was his great fame in America. 

Hugo says of Rebulard, “She was modest, with the face of an angel.” Catherine adds, “She was more normal appearing [than Swagg Man]. She cried all the time and swore that they hadn’t swindled anyone.” The couple took a liking to Swagg Man, too, and believed his story about the Tunisian government victimizing him. “We took pity on him,” Hugo says.

The couple say they helped support Rebulard financially. And they negotiated a deal with her to brand merchandise with Swagg Man and paid for his lawyers. Then, on Jan. 13, 2022, a Tunisian appeals court reversed the charges against him — although the finance ministry continued to block the money wired to him from the Raiffeisen Bank.

Around that same time, Hugo and Catherine purchased a luxury apartment Swagg Man identified for them as an investment in Fort Lauderdale. Swagg Man disputes that such a deal ever happened. But bank-transfer documents filed in court show that in December 2021 and January 2022 the couple made four wire transfers totaling 1.5 million euros destined for the purchase of the Fort Lauderdale property. 

But there was no apartment. That luxury property wasn’t purchased for the couple — the apartment hadn’t even been up for sale. According to the couple’s attorney, Swagg Man and Rebulard instead directed the couple’s money get wired to AAA Plus Financial Group, a firm owned by Johnny Previlus. Swagg Man tells me Previlus is “my accountant.” In texts to me, Previlus at first says Swagg Man “is not in my client or friends circle.” But then he adds, “I met him for a very short period as a client, and thereafter he traveled abroad. The next news I heard was that he went to jail.” He told me to contact his lawyer after I pressed him on his dealings with Swagg Man.

According to the lawsuit, AAA moved Hugo and Catherine’s misdirected money immediately to purchase two real luxury apartments in Miami on Biscayne Boulevard and several valuable watches on behalf of Luxury Properties, a company owned by Rebulard and Swagg Man. Hugo and Catherine are now suing Swagg Man, Rebulard, and their Luxury Properties, seeking restitution of their money. But Swagg Man and Rebulard’s Miami attorney, David P. Reiner II, wrote to me that the lawsuit has nothing to do with the properties. Instead, Reiner describes it as an attempt by the French couple to get money from Swagg Man to cover what they lost on bad cryptocurrency investments. Reiner contends, “Everyone who lost money when the crypto markets collapsed is looking for someone to blame.”

But Hugo and Catherine’s Florida attorney, David Haft, scoffs at the notion. “There are bank records,” he says, “wire instructions from [his clients] to Zaibet, for a supposed acquisition of a Fort Lauderdale property. Why was the money sent to AAA Financial if it was intended for Iteb Zaibet?” A Tunisian court agreed, finding, in October 2022, Rebulard and Zaibet, who did not return for the trial, guilty of fraud in the case. A three-year sentence for that conviction hangs over them. 

Swagg Man says he’s “someone mysterious that people invent lives on. Because they can’t get in touch with him.”

SWAGG MAN FACES A WORLD of trouble — if he gets caught. On Feb. 22 of this year, a Tunisian court found him guilty of defrauding the 20 victims. He did not attend the trial. In absentia, he received a 20-year sentence, a year for each victim. An international warrant has gone out for his arrest. He has since publicly renounced his Tunisian citizenship. A Tunisian superior court also sent the reversal of the previous decision on the Raiffeisen money-laundering matter back to the appeals court for further investigation and possible retrial. And, according to Benzarti, Swagg Man faces a judicial inquiry in France about his alleged embezzlement of funds from Hugo and Catherine while in Tunisia.

But it’s catch me if you can.

I communicated with Swagg Man over the course of several weeks during the period when his 20 victims’ cases were decided in Tunisia. He insists he continues to operate without fear. “I can travel anywhere in the world.” At one point while discussing his travels, he tells me, “I love getting on my plane and going to other countries like Brazil, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico.” He says he flies in “a Cessna Citation,” a private jet he says he rents. 

I invite Swagg Man to guide me to people who can verify what he tells me about his life. But, he says, nobody beside him, his videographer Vanin, his lawyers, and “a few artists” know who he truly is. 

“Everything else is just crap … because who is Swagg Man?” he ponders. “Swagg Man is someone extremely mysterious that people invent lives on him. Why? Because they can’t get in touch with him.”

After I pose what is apparently too many pointed questions about the criminal evidence against him, he finally stops responding to my messages. 

The mysteries shrouding Swagg Man remain. In one of our last interactions he says he’s in Tulum and will soon be back in Miami. He writes me, “I promise to you I [will] see you soon in Miami. I swear.”