A man who posed as a Saudi Prince to swindle $8 million from wealthy investors has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for fraud.
Colombia-born Anthony Gignac, 48, posed as a Saudi royal under a fake persona—Prince Sultan Bin Khalid Al-Saud—for three decades.
He was jailed for “fraudulently assuming the identity of a member of the Saudi Royal family in order to build relationships worldwide, including in South Florida, receive gifts, and conduct a large-scale scheme to defraud would-be investors,” stated a press release from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida on May 31.
Gignac, a U.S. citizen, was adopted at the age of seven by a family in Michigan.
Yesterday Anthony Gignac’s long-running, and entirely fake, life as a Saudi royal came to an end when he was jailed for 18 years in Miami https://t.co/DY2upB12WT
— The Times of London (@thetimes) June 1, 2019
By the time he was 17, Gignac had already assumed the identity of a Saudi royal, using false documents to scam wealthy investors, credit card companies, and shop staff to fuel his luxurious lifestyle.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan said in the 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,” Orshan added.
“He sold his victims on hope for their families, careers, and future. As a result, dozens of unsuspecting investors were stripped of their investments, losing more than $8 million.”
Using the swindled money, Gignac purchased luxury Rolex watches, expensive jewelry, bought a Ferrari, and rented a property on an exclusive island in South Florida, reported the South China Morning Post.
Fake Saudi prince Anthony Gignac jailed for $8m fraud https://t.co/rVfWkawccj
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) June 1, 2019
To support his “fraudulent persona,” he traveled with security, bought fake diplomatic license plates, a fake Diplomatic Security Service badge for his bodyguards, traditional Saudi clothing, and referred to himself as “Prince,” “His Royal Highness,” and/or “Sultan,” on his business cards, according to the press release.
The 48-year-old often posted images of his luxurious lifestyle on his personal Instagram profile, with his chihuahua, Foxy, featuring regularly on his account.
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Ayana Harris, Gignac’s assistant federal public defender, said Gignac had an abusive childhood and claimed this was the “underlying reason for his criminal life,” reported the Miami Herald.
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Dubbing him a “mastermind,” U.S. District Judge Cecelia Altonaga said Gignac “enveloped himself in the trappings of Saudi royalty,” adding that it was at least the eleventh time he had been arrested for posing as a Saudi prince, reported the Miami Herald.
“He had everyone believing he was a Saudi prince,” Altonaga said.
While fraudulently claiming to be Saudi royalty, Gignac would persuade people to invest in non-existent business ventures around the world, prosecutors said, according to the BBC.
However, when Gignac attempted to invest in a luxury Miami hotel, its owners became “increasingly wary of Gignac,” mainly because during meals, he willingly and happily ate pork, which would have been against his religion if he were a devout Muslim prince, the Miami Herald reported.
The owners asked their security team to investigate Gignac, then reported their suspicions that he may be an impostor to authorities.
Gignac was arrested late 2017 and pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and impersonating a diplomat earlier this year, according to court documents.