Fake Saudi prince given 18 years in U.S. prison for fraud

The man who the LA Times dubbed as the "Prince of Fraud" will now be spending the next two decades repenting for his mistakes.

June 3, 2019 07:13
2 minute read.
Fake Saudi prince given 18 years in U.S. prison for fraud

A post from the Instagram account of @princedubai_07. (photo credit: INSTAGRAM)

Anthony Gignac, born in Bogota, Colombia, has been pretending to be a sheikh from the Saudi Royal family for nearly three decades now under the pseudonym Prince Kahlid Bin Al-Saud. He pled guilty to impersonating a foreign diplomat or foreign government official in the South Florida District Court in March, and was sentenced to 18-1/2 years in prison for fraud Friday.

Gignac has conned investors hailing from all over the world, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Hong Kong out of nearly $8 million dollars - claiming he had access to "lucrative" business deals through his royal status with a promise that all investments would be backed by the royal family itself, if all goes wrong.

"To support his fraudulent persona, Gignac purchased fake diplomatic license plates, a fake Diplomatic Security Service badge for his bodyguards, traditional Saudi garb, luxury goods consistent with the lavish lifestyle of a Saudi Royal, and business cards referring to himself as 'Prince,' 'His Royal Highness,' and/or 'Sultan,'" according a statement by the US Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Florida.

In line with the statement, Gignac managed an Instagram account posing as a prince, even posting pictures of Saudi Royal family members, referring to the king with captions such as "my dad," as well as referred to himself as so during his correspondences with investors, even demanding "that certain royal protocol (i.e., gift giving) be followed when individuals met him to engage in business deals."

The record states that Gignac has been arrested for executing similar "prince-related schemes" in the past, dating back as early as 1988 - he supported his claim by forging documents from high-ranking officials in the Saudi Royal family "purporting to verify his status as a royal, his access to great wealth, and his stake in Saudi Aramco."

"Those funds were not put into business opportunities, legitimate investments, or any interest-yielding source," the court document said. "Instead, Gignac used the money to finance his lavish lifestyle, including Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, yachts, expensive jewelry, designer clothing, travel on private jets, and a two-bedroom property on Fisher Island.  Investors were also tricked into giving Gignac extravagant gifts like paintings, jewelry, and memorabilia" - all of which he boasted about on his Instagram account @princedubai_07.

Gignac's lie was uncovered when he targeted Jeffrey Soffer, owner of the Fountainbleau Resort Hotel on Miami Beach, according to the Miami Herald. When Gignac offered to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the real estate developer resort, Soffer admittedly gave the conman the normally requested introductory gift to gain the fake prince's interest.

Something that stood out with Soffer, however, was Gignac's ability to eat pork products during meals, something that is forbidden in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and throughout the Muslim religion, according to court records. Therefore the real-estate developer decided to hire a private investigator, which eventually lead to an FBI probe, according to the Herald.

“The entire blame of this entire operation is on me, and I accept that,” Gignac said in his final statement at his sentencing, according to court records. He insisted, however, that he is not a monster and that his poor choices were a result of a his ill-starred childhood growing up in Colombia.

The man who the LA Times dubbed as the "Prince of Fraud" will now be spending the next two decades repenting for his mistakes.

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