Two years ago, Anthony Gignac was living the life of royalty. Going by the name “Khaled Al-Saud,” he had convinced investors that he was a Saudi Arabian prince and had access to the family’s vast trove of wealth.
Gignac was sentenced on Friday by a U.S District judge for fraudulently assuming the identity of a member of the Saudi royal family. His scheme caused investors to lose more than $8 million, according to the Department of Justice. Now, he faces more than 18 years in prison.
Gignac, who flew in private jets, wore Rolex’s and drove Ferraris with a personal bodyguard, even swindled Miami billionaire developer Jeffrey Soffer into believing that he would make an offer to buy the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, according to Vanity Fair. But his con was unraveled in 2017 when he went out to dinner with the Soffer family in Aspen and ordered prosciutto (pork is forbidden under the Koran).
“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 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,” Orshan added.
Gignac used this persona to solicit investment in a business that he and a co-conspirator formed, called Marden Williams International. He claimed he had 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, according to the Department of Justice.
He also offered investors the chance to purchase his alleged stake in Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company – Saudi Aramco.
In actuality, none of the money went into any legitimate business venture or investment. Instead, Gignac used the funds to buy Ferraris, Rolls-Royces, yachts, expensive jewelry, designer clothing, travel on private jets, and a two-bedroom property on Fisher Island.
Gignac went to great lengths to keep up the appearance that he was a member of the royal family. He purchased fake diplomatic license plates, along with fake Diplomatic Security Service badge for his bodyguards, according to the Department of Justice. He wore traditional Saudi garb and ran an Instagram account, with pictures posted of Saudi Royal family members, including the king, with captions that said “my dad.”
He also demanded that investors give him gifts under royal protocol. Soffer allegedly gave Gignac over $150,000 worth of gifts including a Cartier bracelet worth $50,000, according to Vanity Fair.
In November 2017, Gignac was arrested at JFK airport in New York City when he presented a fake passport.
According to the Department of Justice, Gignac has run similar schemes in the past. Between 1988 and today, Gignac was arrested or convicted 11 different times for prince-related schemes.