Page last updated at 14:59 GMT, Monday, 16 February 2009

Fake countess must pay 850,000

A fake countess jailed for five years for conning victims out of their life savings has been ordered to pay back 850,000 by a London court.

Elda Beguinua's wealth was supposedly so vast its value could only be described in court as "300 followed by 41 zeros", Southwark Crown Court heard.

She also claimed to be related to the Hapsburg and Bourbon royal dynasties.

The 63-year-old, from Dulwich, south-east London, was convicted of seven counts of deception and jailed in July.

When she tells me there are 22 caves in the Philippines guarded by 10,000 workers, guarding a treasure of trillions of pounds in precious gems and gold I do not believe her
Judge Jeremy McMullen, QC

At the confiscation hearing in Southwark Crown Court Judge Jeremy McMullen, QC, ordered her to return the money to her victims within a year or spend another three years in jail.

In court the Filipina national, who had variously titled herself "Doctor", "Contessa de Avila" and "Baroness Beguinua", asked for the judge for a 90-day adjournment saying she could prove the treasure she spoke of was real.

"I'm really begging," she told the court. "Give me time, if I don't come up with it, put me in [prison] forever or kill me."

During the trial she claimed her fortune included 2m tonnes of gold, which was dubbed as "a ridiculous, make-believe amount" by the prosecution.

Responding to her outburst the judge ordered her to sit saying: "Miss Beguinua, people haven't been killed by the justice system in this country for more than 40 years."

'Number one fraudster'

He added an adjournment for a similar reason during her trial did not yield any new evidence.

"And it will be recalled in that hearing she herself acknowledged she was a number one fraudster and should be in the Guinness Book of Records."

"It is certainly part of her mindset that she convinces others she has a substantial fortune.

"When she tells me there are 22 caves in the Philippines guarded by 10,000 workers, guarding a treasure of trillions of pounds in precious gems and gold I do not believe her.

The judge said she had received about 1.37m from victims and others and after deducting "living expenses", 848,736 realisable assets were left which she had to return.

During the trial the court heard the twice married mother-of-two was jailed for a similar fraud 11 years ago.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific