The Great Pretender

by Cynthia de Castro/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – Sometimes, a person who has been convicted of a crime and imprisoned for it would change his ways once he gets out of jail. But sadly, sometimes not.

Eleven years ago, Filipina Elda Beguinua made the headlines in the UK as a “Bogus Baroness” who was accused of posing as a baroness (Baroness Avilla) and trying to defraud British financial institutions of £16trillion. She was jailed for two years.

A few days ago, Elda made it to the headlines again, after she was accused of once again pretending to be royalty rolling in money, and defrauding people. She allegedly weaved a web of deceit, boasting of Spanish galleons filled with gold and a family fortune in the Philippines worth “300 followed by 41 zeros”. The 63-year-old mother of two created fake documents which she showed to her victims, including letters relating to her proposal to buy Harrods, one of the world’s most famous department stores in London, for £15billion. She also said she was looking for a new house to buy and was viewing properties worth up to £70million.

Earlier this week, jurors at Southwark Crown Court, UK were told that following Beguinua’s release from prison, she targeted victims from whom she was able to swindle more than £20,000. The victims told police they gave up their jobs and happily accepted Beguinua’s offer for them to join her “global humanitarian organization” with huge salaries and numerous other promised benefits that never materialized. They believed Beguinua’s stories and lent her money when she said red tape was holding her money overseas. It was only after months passed and they were not paid for their work, let alone the loans, that they became suspicious, according to the Daily Mail.

The “countess” denied eight counts of deception and one of attempted deception at the courts.

During Beguinua’s trial in 1997, prosecuting attorneys told the court that Elda Beguinua posed as a Spanish baroness and tried to defraud British financial institutions of £16trillion, claiming she controlled $1 trillion worth of precious metals being held on deposit by a bank. But one broker knew the huge value of the bullion Elda claimed to control (80,000 tons of precious metal) was greater than the entire world precious metal production in the last 150 years, which is around 35,000 tons.


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