A man who posed as a "fake prince" in order to steal $2million (£1.5m) worth of jewellery in an elaborate heist has opened up about his former "double life."
Saqib Mumtaz told Liverpool Echo he and a group of friends plotted to steal millions of dollars worth of jewellery in the late 90s.
He even claimed to be the Sultan of Brunei's brother and convinced a jeweller based in Beverley Hills, California, to fly to London to supply luxury items for an upcoming wedding.
The bag of jewels exchanged hands but disappeared, which later led to the crime group's arrest.
Speaking to the LiverpoolEcho, Mr Mumtaz said he began his life of crime by becoming involved in credit card fraud.
He said: "I was living a double life – at home I was a good little Asian lad who was studying and working part time.
"We would visit countries and be living the crazy life on credit cards. Mainly it would be the rich Arabs and film directors, anyone famous who had unlimited tonnes of money on American Express.
"At the time, people around us were doing drugs and robberies and that was one route we didn’t want to go down."
Mumtaz then progressed onto bigger scores and targeted a shop after finding out the Sultan of Brunei had been there before on a shopping spree.
He gained as much information as he could, called the shop, and organised for someone to come out to the UK.
Saqib said the group even pretended to be on an aeroplane at one point but in reality they were in Manchester with an extractor hood on.
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He said: "We found out the Sultan of Brunei had been there (the jewellers) a few months before on a shopping spree, so I thought let's give them a call.
"Before we did, we gained as much information as we could – it took weeks and when we rang the jewellers we said we are interested in a selection of jewellery.
"We never spoke about money, because when you’re rich, you don’t. We said we’re having a wedding in England and we wanted them to come here.
"We said we would arrange and pay for everything and asked could they bring a selection of jewellery."
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The plan fell through when Saqib’s friend, who had made off with the jewellery, ran out of phone battery and used the chauffeur’s phone to ring the group on a personal number.
Saqib said: “What’s happened is, my mate (the prince) has got down the road in the limousine and that’s when his phone battery ran out.
"He borrowed the chauffeur's phone and rang one of us on a personal number. That was a link.
"Also, the chauffeur needed to relieve himself, so he’s parked up and I’m talking to my mate (over the phone) and I said, well what’s going on and he said, oh the chauffeur has gone for a leak. I said what, and you’re sat in the car? Get the hell out of there.
“So he got out of there, legged it, caught the Tube home because at that time he lived in London.
"The next day I got him to catch a train to Leeds, where I got the bag off him. I said right listen, go home and be on your toes because you might get a knock on the door but you’re going to get looked after and that was it.
"And the next thing you know, he gets arrested."
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Saqib said his co-defendants began to confess the whole plot while in custody and the rest of the group didn’t have a choice but to hold their hands up.
He said: "I got arrested and put on remand. In the end, I knew they were going to get me. You can’t go through the years of doing what we did and not paying for it. It’s just that when you’re young, you think you’re invincible."
Saqib was sentenced to three and a half years in prison in 1997, after admitting two counts of conspiring to steal and two of obtaining property by deception.
Of his crime, Saqib said he was worried about the embarrassment it would cause his family, and while he regrets his actions, he is now working with schools to mentor children.
He said: "I do have regrets, I’ve got kids now, and I’m trying to do some mentoring with schools, to go in and let them know, crime is not the way.
"I do these interviews and if anything, if I can deter a kid from not going down that way then it’s worth me talking about it."
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