Prince Albert II of Monaco: Conmen use fake prince to extract money

Prince Albert II of Monaco and his wife Princess Charlene stand on the palace balcony in Monaco on 27 January 2018Image copyright

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In some instances, a fake prince appeared to impersonate Albert speaking from his palace

Conmen have been impersonating top personalities in Monaco, including Prince Albert II, to obtain money from high-profile victims, reports say.

One well-known journalist was contacted via WhatsApp by the fake prince and asked for money to help free a local journalist allegedly kidnapped by an Islamist group, Monaco-Matin reports.

The Monaco government has issued a statement confirming the stings, but without naming the prince.

Police have launched an investigation.

In one instance, a fake Prince Albert II apparently in his office at the palace made video contact with one victim, Monaco-Matin says.

In other instances, documents with official letterheads and signed by officials from the principality have been used; phone calls also seemed to come from official institutions, with the switchboard numbers appearing during the calls, the government said in a statement quoted by Ouest France newspaper.

The aim of those stings is for money transfers to be made to foreign bank accounts, notably in Asia, it added.

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“For several weeks, individuals who are part of organised groups, have been stealing the identities of high-ranking personalities in the principality and trying to establish personal contact with them… notably through electronic messages, SMS or video-conferencing via a WhatsApp type of application,” the statement said.

It described the targets are “leaders of society or people with responsibility”.

Albert has been ruler of Monaco since the death of his father, Prince Rainier, in 2005. His fortune is estimated at some €2bn (£1.8bn; $2.4bn).

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