A social media-savvy “Saudi prince” who lived a drool-worthy lifestyle and had the sign “Sultan” on his Miami penthouse door has turned out to be a major con artist and now faces 18 years in jail for fraud.
Last Friday, a federal judge in the Southern District of Florida ruled that Anthony Gignac, 48, had swindled $8 million from dozens of investors by leading a sophisticated, multi-national fraud scheme under the fake persona of a Saudi prince between 2015 and 2017, The Miami Herald first reported.
“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 Ariana Fajardo Orshan said in a statement.
“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 added.
According to court documents, Gignac was born in Colombia and was adopted by an American family in Michigan at the age of seven. He started impersonating a Saudi royal member at 17 and had been arrested 11 times for “prince-related schemes,” including defrauding credit card companies and individual investors, before the latest exposé.
In 2015, Gignac took on the name Khalid Bin Al-Saud (meaning that he’s a direct relative to Saudi Arabia’s late king Khalid, a brother of current King Salman). To support his fraudulent persona, Gignac purchased fake diplomatic license plates for his cars and forged ID badges for his bodyguards.
Gignac frequently travelled on private jets and luxury yachts, and chronicled his lavish lifestyle on Instagram under the handle “princedubai_07.” (For what it’s worth, Dubai is in the United Arab Emirates, not Saudi Arabia.) Objects featured on his Instagram included luxury cars, designer bags, diamond-rimmed watches, a Henri Matisse painting and his three dogs in their own designer logo-splashed outfits. One time, he even posted a photo of Saudi’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and called him “uncle” in the caption.
Prosecutors said Gignac used his fake identity to convince people to invest in non-existent businesses around the world and often demanded expensive gifts from his business partners per “royal protocol.”
But his scheme started to fall apart in 2017, when he tried to invest in a luxury hotel in Miami with real estate billionaire Donald Soffer. During their business meetings, Soffer grew suspicious after noticing that Gignac would eat pork products—which would be strictly prohibited for a Muslim prince.
The real estate mogul then hired private investigators to look into Gignac’s background, which ultimately led to an FBI probe in late 2017.
Verifying the identity of a Saudi prince is not easy, as the Saudi royalty’s family tree is immensely large and notoriously opaque. Per one estimate, there are over 15,000 members of the Saudi royal family, including all princes, princesses and people with higher titles.