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In 2017, a man claiming to be a affiliate of the ultra-wealthy Saudi aristocratic family, called Prince Khalid Bin Al-Saud, entered into talks with absolute acreage developers to accomplish a $400 actor advance in an iconic affluence auberge on Miami Beach.
He absolutely looked the allotment of affluent royalty. For starters, the “prince” lived in the accommodation address of a affluence high-rise — he claimed to own the accomplished architecture — on Fisher Island, the absolute clandestine island adjacency amid aloof off the coffer of Miami. (With celebrity association that acquire included Oprah Winfrey and Andre Agassi, the island boasts the richest zip cipher in the U.S., with an boilerplate assets of $2.5 actor as of 2015.)
Khalid consistently collection about the affluence ascendancy in a 2016 Ferrari California (with a abject amount of almost $200,000) antic adept authorization plates and a aegis detail. He was additionally accepted to ride about in added affluence vehicles, from a Bentley to a Rolls Royce, while traveling on yachts and clandestine jets.
And Khalid bogus abiding to certificate his aces affairs on amusing media, announcement photos on Instagram assuming off his affluence vehicles, diamond-encrusted jewelry, Rolex watches. His Instagram profile, beneath the screen-name “@princedubai_07”, additionally showed the lengths to which Khalid would go to blemish his admired chihuahua, Foxy, whom he agitated about in a about $2,700 Louis Vuitton dog carrier.
There was aloof one problem: The man calling himself Prince Khalid Bin Al-Saud — to his affluent neighbors and business ally who had handed him millions of dollars in investments — was absolutely a con-man called Anthony Gignac. Far from actuality a affiliate of the Saudi aristocratic ancestors (which has an estimated net annual of added than $1 trillion), Gignac was absolutely built-in in Colombia and confused to Michigan at age 6, aback he and his brother were adopted by a common couple.
But as federal prosecutors would afterwards explain, Gignac did not acquire anywhere abutting to the hundreds of millions of dollars he claimed to authority in adopted coffer accounts. He additionally didn’t own the Fisher Island high-rise and all 54 of its affluence condos, but was in actuality alone leasing the building’s penthouse. Alike the adept authorization plates were fake, with Gignac’s business accomplice accepting purchased them on eBay, according to Vanity Fair.
In March 2019, afresh 48-year-old Gignac pleaded accusable to accuse of impersonating a adopted diplomat, aggravated character theft, wire artifice and cabal to accomplish wire fraud. Two months later, he was bedevilled to added than 18 years in federal prison.
Gignac’s multimillion-dollar artifice arrangement is the accountable of the division premiere of CNBC’s “American Greed,” blue-blooded “The Affected Prince’s Aristocratic Scam,” airing Monday, Jan. 6 at 10 pm ET.
Rather than active off a all-inclusive aristocratic fortune, Gignac had been allotment his abundant affairs with money he bilked from investors, who believed he was an absolute Saudi prince with a cogent pale in Saudi Aramco, the oil behemothic controlled by the absolute Saudi aristocratic family.
Gignac had managed to body a arrangement of investors about the apple with his aristocratic angle by alms to advertise pieces of his affected Saudi Aramco pale at a abatement advanced of the company’s planned IPO, according to a bent complaint filed adjoin Gignac in 2017 by federal authorities. Gignac additionally offered opportunities to advance in added abstract businesses, such as a belvedere for trading jet fuel, a coffer in Malta and an Irish biologic company.
Saudi Aramco eventually did go accessible in December 2019 at a appraisal over $1.8 trillion, authoritative it the world’s best admired accessible company.
Had Gignac’s advance offers been legitimate, his business ally ability acquire stood to accomplish a lot of money. In fact, Gignac told investors they could accomplish “five times” their antecedent investments already the aggregation went public. Instead, federal authorities said he calm about $8 actor from those investors and acclimated that money to advance his blatant affairs and buy the absolute affluence appurtenances that would advice him canyon as a affiliate of one of the world’s richest families.
“Those funds were not put into business opportunities, accepted investments, or any interest-yielding source,” the Administration of Justice said in a annual in May 2019. “Instead, Gignac acclimated the money to accounts his abundant lifestyle, including Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, yachts, big-ticket jewelry, artist clothing, biking on clandestine jets, and a two-bedroom acreage on Fisher Island. Investors were additionally tricked into giving Gignac absurd ability like paintings, jewelry, and memorabilia.”
In adjustment to advertise his con to those investors, Gignac did added than aloof dress the part, cutting big-ticket adornment such as design rings, Cartier bracelets and Rolex watches, as able-bodied as acceptable Middle Eastern apparel like a white thobe and a red-and-white ghutra headdress. According to cloister documents, he additionally bought the affected adept authorization plates for his affluence cars and bogus abstracts with names of law firms and banks associated with the absolute Saudi aristocratic ancestors in adjustment to accomplish his claims of abundance and cachet assume legitimate.
“The abstraction that you could buy a acceptable allocation of that company, which is admired at $2 trillion, at a discounted amount … An outstanding acknowledgment of advance is article that absorbed a lot of bodies to Mr. Gignac,” Adept Secret Service appropriate abettor Ryan McSeveney told CNBC in an annual for “American Greed.”
To be fair, Gignac had additionally been honing his arrangement for abundant of his life.
Starting in 1988, Gignac was arrested or bedevilled 11 times for schemes area he was impersonating a prince or added Middle Eastern royalty, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
Source: Miami Dade County Sheriff’s Office
After abrogation his adoptive ancestors in Michigan as a teenager, Gignac began application baseborn acclaim cards to cruise about Detroit in limousines while aggravating to canyon himself off as “Prince Adnan Khashoggi,” application the name of a billionaire Saudi accoutrements dealer, according to Vanity Fair.
Gignac eventually took his act to California, area in 1991 The Los Angeles Times dubbed him the “Prince of Fraud” afterwards the afresh 21-year-old racked up about $3,500 in allowance and aliment bills at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, forth with addition $7,500 in auto accuse and added counterfeit purchases of Louis Vuitton baggage from Rodeo Drive shops. Gignac had promised that his affluent ancestors would pay off his debts — alike acceptable the chic hotel’s advisers to accredit to him as “Your Highness” — but he was eventually arrested and bedevilled to two years in prison.
“He was absolute audacious, he was absolute bold, and he was absolute aggressive,” McSeveney tells “American Greed.” Gignac generally pulled off his cons by actuality loud and aggressive, angrily babble at anyone who challenged his identity, asking: “Do you apperceive who my parents are?”
“Nobody would absolutely acquire that if you were appearance this that you would draw that abundant absorption to yourself, and scream and yell,” Trinity Jordan, a above Abettor U.S. Attorney in Florida’s Southern District, tells CNBC. “Because it’s so bold, and adverse what you commonly would apprehend a con-man to do, it’s apparently why it worked.”
Gignac affiliated affairs off almost small-scale cons throughout the 1990s and 2000s, application artificial abstracts to con acclaim agenda companies into giving him cards beneath the name Khalid Bin Al-Saud. He afresh maxed out those cards active up bills annual tens of bags of dollars at hotels and flush retailers beyond the country.
In 1993, Gignac catholic to Hawaii, area he affected to be a prince and scammed tourists out of about $30,000 to awning his break at a comfortable resort by falsely claiming he could action them a pale in an oil acreage in Saudi Arabia, according to Vanity Fair, which cites cloister documents. He pulled agnate frauds in Florida, active up tens of bags of dollars in acclaim agenda debt at high-end resorts, such as the Walt Disney Apple Admirable Floridian Beach Resort in Orlando, as able-bodied as added than $51,000 at a Florida Saks Fifth Avenue location.
Over the years, those array of schemes landed Gignac in and out of bastille for accuse alignment from artifice and admirable annexation to impersonating a adopted diplomat. In some cases, Gignac alike kept up the angle while on acquittal or while out on bail, including one instance in the aboriginal 1990s aback he was apprehension balloon on artifice and admirable annexation accuse in Florida, and Gignac assertive American Express to activity him a Platinum agenda with a $200 actor band of credit. (The Miami Herald letters that Gignac anchored the agenda by falsely claiming he’d absent an absolute Platinum agenda and afresh agreeable at agnostic American Express advisers that his father, the king, would be bent if his agenda wasn’t replaced.)
He appointed a auto and anon went to a jeweler, area he spent over $22,000 on two Rolex watches and an emerald and design bracelet.
In 2003, Gignac was arrested afresh aback in Michigan and answerable with ambidexterity high-end administration food Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue out of $29,000 in clothing, adornment and perfume, including Chanel fragrances, Brioni shirts and Salvatore Ferragamo shoes. At the time, authorities said Gignac had told abundance advisers that he was a Saudi prince annual about bisected a billion dollars. He faced up to four years in prison.
In that case, Gignac alike allegedly answerable bags of dollars to a Neiman Marcus annual endemic by an absolute Saudi prince, admitting authorities were borderline how Gignac absolutely managed to access the absolute prince’s annual number, above Oakland County, Michigan prosecutor Gerry Gleeson told CNBC’s “American Greed.”
Gignac told authorities at the time that he absolutely knew the Saudi aristocratic ancestors and that he was application the absolute prince’s annual with the family’s permission. Gignac claimed he’d had an activity with the absolute Saudi prince and that the ancestors was acknowledging him financially to accumulate him silent.
An abettor to the U.S. agent to Saudi Arabia told federal admiral in 2003 that Gignac was “not a affiliate of the Aristocratic Ancestors nor associated in any way with the Saudi Aristocratic Family,” and the absolute Prince Khalid beatific a letter to Neiman Marcus claiming he did not apperceive Gignac, Vanity Fair appear in 2018.
Gignac pleaded accusable to attempted coffer artifice and impersonating a adopted abettor in 2006, accepting a book of 77 months in federal prison.
But rather than affairs aback from his counterfeit schemes as a aftereffect of actuality bent over and over again, Gignac would eventually access up his con to new extremes. Instead of scamming hotels and retailers out of tens of bags of dollars, Gignac set his architect higher.
Again assuming as a Saudi prince, he met a British asset administrator called Carl Marden Williamson who helped Gignac authorize access with deep-pocketed investors about the world, with the “prince” alms at aboriginal to put up his own money for investments but ultimately gluttonous ample investments for his own abstract business opportunities. (According to federal authorities, Williamson was in on Gignac’s arrangement and he was called as Gignac’s abettor in the federal case. However, Williamson died afterward a appear suicide attack anon afterwards actuality interrogated by federal agents in affiliation with the case.)
Through that ruse, Gignac reaped millions of dollars from biting investors. But the abundant beyond calibration of his new arrangement additionally added the accident of exposure.
In 2017, Gignac affiliated with absolute acreage developers attractive for a deep-pocketed broker to buy a cogent pale in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel. But over the advance of those accord talks, the developers started agreeable in due activity that aloft questions over the declared Saudi prince’s identity. Aback those developers appear their suspicions to the FBI, federal authorities bound accustomed Gignac’s accomplishment — and this time, they accomplished that his accepted cons had developed to accommodate massive banking fraud.
Upon his arrest in 2017, DSS agents bedeviled adornment from Gignac annual an estimated $450,000 in total, forth with $80,000 dollars in banknote and assorted pieces of artwork, such as an autographed photograph of battle fable Muhammad Ali.
“The absolute accusation of this absolute operation is on me, and I acquire that,” Gignac told a federal adjudicator at his 2019 sentencing in Miami, according to The Miami Herald. But, he added, “I am not a monster.”
Watch all new episodes of CNBC’s “American Greed″ on Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
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