Fake prince sentenced to 18 years in federal prison

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a session at Saudi Arabia's investment conference last year. Anthony Gignac was sentenced to more than 18 years in prison Friday for pretending to be a Saudi prince. Photo by Fares Ghaith/EPA-EFE

June 2 (UPI) — Colombian native Anthony Gignac, who swindled millions from investors while pretending to be a prince from Saudi Arabia, was sentenced by a federal judge in Miami to 18 ½ years in prison Friday.

Gignac, 48, used the alias Sultan Bin Khalid Al-Saud among others to trick investors from Florida to Britain to give him money for bogus business deals. Authorities said he had been arrested some 11 times during his long-running scam that lasted three decades.

He earlier pleaded guilty to impersonating a foreign diplomat or foreign government official, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Gignac, who the Miami Herald reported has a documented history of mental health problems from an abusive childhood, tried to point the finger at others in federal court before his sentencing.

“The entire blame of this entire operation is on me, and I accept that,” Gignac told U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga, but then suggested “other people” were as much to blame. “I am not a monster.”

U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan said in a statement that Gignac sold “false hope” to victims who bought his Saudi prince story and were lured in by his lavish lifestyle that they did not know was all a ruse.

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“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,” Orshan said.

“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. 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,” Orshan continued.

Prosecutors said Gignac bought fake diplomatic license plates, a fake Diplomatic Security Service badge for his bodyguards, traditional Saudi garb, luxury goods consistent with the wealthy lifestyle of a Saudi Royal, and fake business cards to sell the scheme.

Authorities said Gignac and co-conspirators formed a fraudulent investment company called Marden Williams International LLC. Gignac falsely claimed he had access to exclusive business ventures throughout the world, including a pharmaceutical company in Ireland, a casino in Malta, luxury hotels, and a jet-fuel trading platform in the Middle East, prosecutors said.

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