The incredible story of the ‘Fake sheikh’ from Michigan who conned millions from investors by claiming to be a Saudi prince and how an eagle-eyed billionaire blew his cover at a business lunch. He drove Ferraris, wore diamond Rolexes, and even had the coveted Amex black card.

Via Instagram / @princedubai

Meet His Royal Highness Khalid bin al-Saud, who is not a prince; in fact, he isn’t even from Saudi Arabia. The con man who maneuvered in an entourage of Rolls-Royces and Ferraris is serviced by uniformed housekeepers, and armed bodyguards chalked out a plan seasoned swindlers could pull off for a while, but the fake sheik executed the persona for thirty years! 52-year-old Anthony Gignac’s cover was finally blown with a sentence of 18.5 years in prison for impersonating Saudi royalty to fraudulently duping 26 international investors out of $8 million. How he managed this feat is a story worth listening to-

He even posted a photo of Saudi’s King Salman and Malaysian PM Najib Tun Razak and claimed it was taken by him. Image – Instagram / princedubai_07

From orphan to an ostentatious Saudi royal-
Gignac, a Colombian orphan adopted by a Michigan family in 1977, spent most of his life living as Prince Khalid, who in real life is the 79-year-old governor of Mecca. The mighty al-Saud name helped him to manipulate, victimize, and scam countless investors from around the world. Gignac’s scam was initiated after he moved to California in 1987, where he obtained a state ID card in the name of Khalid al-Saud.

The fake prince even bragged about ‘diplomatic status’.Via Instagram / @princedubai

His life since has been a carousel of spending much of his time in and out of prison. The epic con man has been arrested 11 times over the past 30 years for impersonating Saudi royalty.

Anthony Cignac regularly posted photos of himself shopping for jewelry and luxury watches.Via Instagram / @princedubai

A string of expensive crimes-
After running away from his mother’s home at 17, Anthony, aka fake sheik, dived deep into his duping ways. In 1991, the 21-year-old imposter stiffed the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel for $3,488 in room and food charges and racked up another $7,500 in limousine bills.

Also read -  This Florida billionaire commissioned Vacheron Constantin to create the world's most complicated watch. With 63 different complications, 2,877 parts, and 31 hands, it took the watchmaker a year just to assemble the multi million dollar timepiece.

Via Instagram / @princedubai

It became a pattern where he talked to luxury stores, promising to pay later (most didn’t think twice before gifting a Prince some princely goods) and never showing up. He talked a Rodeo Drive shopkeeper out of a Louis Vuitton luggage set and a rare coin collection.

Gignac flaunting his Amex Black cards.Via Instagram / @princedubai

In the early 2000s, Anthony again used his royal persona to charge more than $28,000 in purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus to the account of an actual Saudi royal. He also tried to withdraw $3.9 million from a Citibank account that did not exist. Over and over again, he was caught, pleaded guilty, sentenced to probation, and disappeared to start a new con somewhere else.

Via Instagram / @princedubai

The curtain went down on the mentally ill fraud in 2017. A Miami federal court judge sentenced him to 18 years in prison, ending his luxury-laden, Rolex-flaunting, penthouse living life and the Saudi prince alias too.

His beloved pet dog Foxy draped in Burberry. Via Instagram / @princedubai

How Anthony pulled off his scam for nearly three decades-
God lies in the details, and Anthony Gignac spared none. From obtaining a state ID card in the name of Khalid al-Saud to credit cards (even an Amex Black card) to a LinkedIn page that included the most impressive names like Harvard Law, master’s in business administration from the University of Southern California, and his top marks at Institut Le Rosey, Switzerland. He certainly knew the taste of the ultra-wealthy and impersonated the same to perfection.

Also read -  This generous American billionaire earned millions of air miles when he swiped his American Express credit card to buy a $2.5 million painting. Instead of travelling the world in first class for free, he gave away all the rewards points to art students.

Jeffrey Soffer got vary of the ‘sheikh’ after he noticed him eating bacon and sausages at a business lunch. Image – Screengrab / Youtube

The smooth-talker once nearly acquired a sizable percentage of the Fontainebleau, a luxury hotel owned by Jeffrey Soffer. The billionaire exposed the man posing as a diplomat and promising a significant investment over dinner. Gignac ordered prosciutto for his appetizer, which triggered Soffer’s suspicion as Muslims dont eat pork. A thorough investigation followed, leading to a Saudi associate revealing Prince Khalid was a nobody. As always, Gignac fled.

His Instagram page is full of displays of his alleged wealth.Via Instagram / @princedubai

The fake prince became Instagram famous-
Dozens of luxury watches, tons of dazzling jewels (he wore a 9-carat ring), Ferraris, Lamborghini, and Rolls-Royce lined up, trips in private planes, and his favorite companion Foxy, the Burberry-donning Chihuahua, made the princely personal incredibly believable. In true royal style, the mastermind draped his doggo in diamonds and designer dog clothes and toted around in a $2,690 Louis Vuitton dog carrier.

A mugshot of Anthony. Image – Screengrab / Youtube.

After Jeffrey Soffer’s investigation, the veil was lifted off Prince Khalid al-Saud of Saudi Arabia. The posh life of the unreal royal came crashing down with an 18-year sentence.

Via Instagram / @princedubai

“The entire blame of this entire operation is on me, and I accept that,” Mr. Gignac told Judge Cecilia Altonaga of the United States District Court at his sentencing in Miami, according to The Miami Herald. But he said “other people” should have been tried alongside him and told the court, “I am not a monster.”

The real Prince Khalid bin Sultan. Image – House of Saud
Tags from the story
Written By
With over 15 years of experience in luxury journalism, Neha Tandon Sharma is a notable senior writer at Luxurylaunches. Her expertise spans luxury yachts, high-end fashion, and celebrity culture. Beyond writing, her passion for fantasy series is evident. Beginning with articles on women-centric gadgets, she's now a leading voice in luxury, with a fondness for opulent superyachts. To date, her portfolio boasts more than 2 million words, often penned alongside a cappuccino.