Wednesday, April 23, 2003

News of the weird
Phoney sultan nabbed for fraud in New York
Maybe he should have been a used-camel salesman instead.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A con artist who posed as the son of Kuwait's prime minister and a Harvard-educated brain surgeon was charged on Wednesday with bilking two women out of over $65,000 in cash, state prosecutors said.

Sultan Ibn Chandler Sabah Al Sabah Dantata, 39, who legally changed his name from Benjamin Maybanks, was accused of conning the women by claiming impeccable credentials and temporary lack of access to his fortune.

He allegedly told his girlfriends he was born in the Middle East, a member of Kuwait's royal family, part of the Kuwaiti delegation to the United Nations and a graduate from Harvard Medical School in neurosurgery.

Claiming a personal fortune of more than $10 million, the man court documents repeatedly referred to as the "Sultan" told his victims that the attacks of Sept. 11 had left him unable to take money out of his bank accounts in the Middle East.

According to the criminal complaint, he told Ari Shirasaka, whom he dated from December 2002 to March 2003, that "because of world events, he temporarily did not have access to money in his Middle Eastern bank accounts."

Shirasaka told authorities that she allowed him to charge over $60,000 in cash advances to her credit cards based on statements he made regarding his background, education and financial status.

She also said he took over $3,000 worth of household items from her apartment after claiming he couldn't use his UN complex and had to use an apartment in Astoria, in the New York City borough of Queens.

A second victim, Emi Iijimi, also dated the man known as "Sultan" for over eight months. The complaint alleges she gave him over $5,000 in cash after he gave her a sob story about being unable to touch his Middle Eastern bank accounts.

Bail for "Sultan," who also used two other aliases, was set at $5,000 during his court appearance. He was unable to post bail, a spokesman for the Correction Department said late Wednesday.

The "Sultan" has a previous police record. In June 2000, he was charged with grand larceny and two counts of criminal possession of stolen property and sentenced to five years probation.

In the earlier case, he was accused of taking over $100,000 in jewelry from the Park Avenue firm of David Saity by again claiming to be a Kuwaiti Sultan whose father was an Emir.

The latest scam finds the "Sultan" charged with two counts of grand larceny and scheming to defraud. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the larceny counts.

He is due back in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday.

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