Monaco, the playground of millionaires, is becoming the favourite hunting ground of high-tech fraudsters who impersonate the rich and famous of the Mediterranean principality including Prince Albert II (pictured) to scam money, local reports said on Saturday (March 17). A Prince Albert lookalike had used a video contact supposedly from the ruler’s own office to target the elite in Riviera, the Monaco-Matin newspaper said. The government said that over the past weeks, individuals have been stealing the identities of some highly respectable personalities for contacting them through emails or video-conferencing. To gain their trust, the fraudsters mail them signed documents on official letterheads. Even if someone feels suspicious and checks the calls, they appear to be genuine numbers of the institutions these fraudsters claim to represent, the government said. Once the con men are convinced they have fully gained the trust of those being targeted, they ask for an urgent financial help through money transfers from foreign bank accounts, particularly in Asia. This way, three company bosses had been recently targeted, Monaco-Matin said. A noted French journalist was approached by a man last September with a tall story of a local being kidnapped by an Islamist group and a ‘prince’ ‘negotiating’ ransom for his release. The journalist informed the police who launched an investigation but were unable to arrest the fraudster. Police on Saturday urged locals to be wary of strangers approaching them with such stories.
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