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Fake Saudi Who Swindled Millions From Investors Sentenced In Fraud Scheme

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Miami fraudster Anthony Gignac, 48, who spent several decades impersonating a Saudi prince was sentenced last week to 18 years in prison for defrauding investors out of $8 million, reported the SCMP . The ruse reportedly fell apart when a victim saw him eating pork, which is prohibited in Islam.

Gignac went by the name of Prince Khalid al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, who is actually the 79-year-old governor of Mecca, chronicled his life of fraud on Instagram under the name @princedubai_07. About 450 posts show Gignac flaunting exotic watches, driving fancy cars, eating sumptuous meals, and taking luxury vacations.

The Miami Herald reported that US District Judge Cecilia Altonaga called him a “mastermind”. Prosecutors said it was at least the 11th time Gignac had been arrested for impersonating a Saudi prince.

“He was the so-called Saudi prince. He enveloped himself in the trappings of Saudi royalty. He had everyone believing he was a Saudi prince,” Altonaga said.

He resided on the exclusive Fisher Island in Florida, where his luxury penthouse was called "Sultan." His bodyguards carried fake badges, and he even had fake diplomatic plates on some of his exotic cars. He went by "prince," "sultan," and "his royal highness" and demanded gifts from his business partners—'per royal protocol.'

But in actuality, Gignac was a Colombian orphan adopted by a Michigan family in the late 1970s. The Times said he lived a life of crime, arrested 11 times for "prince-related schemes." Gignac pleaded guilty in March to wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and impersonating a diplomat, court documents showed.

"Over the course of the last three decades, Anthony Gignac has portrayed himself as a Saudi Prince in order to manipulate, victimize, and scam countless investors from around the world," Ariana Fajardo Orshan, the United States attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said in a statement. "As the leader of a sophisticated, multi-person, international fraud scheme, Gignac used his fake persona — Prince Khalid Bin al-Saud — to sell false hope."

The conman had a checkered history: according to The Los Angeles Times, Gignac stole more than US$10,000 from a limousine company and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in 1991. He pleaded no contest. The New York Times reported that in 2006, Gignac pleaded guilty to charging US$28,000 at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus to the account of a Saudi royal. He also tried to withdraw nearly US$4 million from a Citibank account that did not exist.

Prosecutors say the scam started in California in 1987, once he had his name changed. He also schemed in Michigan and Florida and used his royal title to extract $8 million from investors for phony worldwide investments. The Los Angeles Times called him the "Prince of Fraud" in 1991 after he was arrested for not paying $10,000 in bills from a limousine company.

Gignac's lawyer said he had lived a life of crime was the result of a troublesome childhood in Colombia.

"The entire blame of this entire operation is on me, and I accept that," Gignac said at his sentencing, insisting, "I am not a monster."

In Gignac’s latest scam, he and a now-dead business partner, Carl Williamson, created a fraudulent investment company, Marden Williamson International, in 2015. They told investors that Gignac was Saudi royalty and that he had access to exclusive deals. A Swiss victim invested US$5 million.

In 2017, he convinced Jeffrey Soffer, the owner of Miami Beach’s Fountainebleau hotel, that he wanted to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into his famed resort. Soffer gave him US$50,000 in gifts. Soffer caught on when he saw Gignac wolfing down bacon and other pork products at meals. He alerted authorities.


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