News World ‘Sheik’ of the burning scams: Bogus Saudi royal gets 18 years for mega-buck con job

‘Sheik’ of the burning scams: Bogus Saudi royal gets 18 years for mega-buck con job

Anthony Gignac might still be ripping off the well-heeled and gullible but for his fondness for bacon. Photo: Dade County Police
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A man who impersonated Saudi royals to con investors and was exposed because of his decidedly un-Islamic appetite for bacon has been sentenced to 18 years in a US prison.

Anthony Gignac, 48, received the sentence on Friday in Miami for stealing at least $US8 million ($A12 million) while pretending to be “Sultan Bin Kahlid Al-Saud”.

He bought a Ferrari, Rolex watches and rented a condo on an exclusive South Florida island with his loot. He pleaded guilty in March to wire fraud, impersonating a diplomat and other crimes.

In 2017, he convinced Jeffrey Soffer, the owner of Miami Beach’s Fountainebleau hotel, that he wanted to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into his famed resort. Soffer gave him $US50,000 in gifts.

Soffer caught on when he saw Gignac wolfing down bacon and other pork products at meals. He alerted authorities.

The Miami Herald reports that US District Judge Cecilia Altonaga called Gignac a “mastermind.” Prosecutors said it was at least the 11th time Gignac, 48, had been arrested for impersonating a Saudi prince.

“He was the so-called Saudi prince. He enveloped himself in the trappings of Saudi royalty. He had everyone believing he was a Saudi prince,” Altonaga said.
Gignac was born in Colombia but was adopted by a Michigan family as a young child. He is a US citizen.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Gignac stole more than $US10,000 from a limo company and the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in 1991. He pleaded no contest.

The New York Times reports that in 2006, Gignac pleaded guilty to charging $US28,000 at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus to the account of a Saudi royal. He also tried to withdraw nearly $US4 million from a Citibank account that didn’t exist.

In Gignac’s latest scam, he and a now-dead business partner Carl Williamson created a fraudulent investment company, Marden Williamson International, in 2015.

They told investors that Gignac was Saudi royalty and  had access to exclusive deals. A Swiss victim invested $US5 million.

-with AAP