In a real-life con-artist story that appears to jump right out of a Hollywood crime movie, a Michigan man was arrested in New York after passing off as a Saudi royal for nearly 20 years.
Although Anthony Gignac was arrested in November, his decades-long streak of cons across different states only recently made the headlines.
Gignac, who identifies himself as "Sultan Bin Khalid al Saud," is a Colombian who was adopted by a U.S. couple in Michigan, along with his brother, Daniel.
The brothers reportedly started tricking people as early as in high school, where they told other students their mother was the owner of Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and their father was actor Dom DeLuise. Of course, none of it was true.
Gignac first major brush with the law came in 1991, when he scammed a Michigan hotel and a bunch of other companies of about $10,000, the Miami Herald reports, citing court documents from a 2008 case.
In 1993, Gignac allegedly defrauded the Grand Bay Hotel in Coconut Grove of $27,000. During his lavish stay there, he left "$20 tips and Chanel handbags." He also kept calling himself "Prince Khaled," while using the identity of a California man to obtain credit cards.
Amazingly, no one noticed anything until two men beat up and robbed Gignac at his Grand Bay penthouse on Dec. 30, 1993. As the police looked into the incident, they notified the Saudi embassy in Washington about the attack on the "prince." They were left shocked, however, when the embassy staff informed them that no such royal existed.
The same year Gignac defrauded Saks Fifth Avenue store of $51,175. Before he could be caught, the man fled to Chicago, where he was eventually arrested and extradited to South Florida.
An attorney arranged his bail in August 1994.
A free man again, Gignac didn't waste any time and immediately visited an American Express office in Miami-Dade to get a platinum card. During the process, bank employees understandably doubted the authenticity of Gignac's identity as a Saudi royal, but incredibly, ended up giving him one when he threatened his father, the king of Saudi Arabia, would not be happy about the way he was being treated.
"He bought two luxury watches and an emerald and diamond bracelet for $22,210 at Mayor's jewelry on Miracle Mile and a suede leather shirt in Coconut Grove for $3,190," Miami Herald reports.
From 1996 to 2002, Gignac was arrested in different cases at least three times. Later, from 2004 to 2006, he remained incarcerated until he was released on probation in 2009.
The man's whereabouts between 2009 and 2017 largely remain unknown. He re-emerged last year, when he, again, tried to swindle two companies, offering them multibillion dollar investment in Miami-Dade, from March to November.
Following his arrest in New York on Nov. 20, a grand jury indicted him and he is currently being held at a detention facility in Oklahoma City.
He faces multiple charges, including "conspiring to commit a crime against the United States, passing himself off as a foreign diplomat, misuse of a passport, aggravated identity theft and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon."
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