Inside Wealth-Conference Con Man Anthony Ritossa’s Wild Web of Lies | #ukscams | #datingscams | #european

As for the American warrant for Ritossa’s arrest, the Pelham Manor Police Department confirmed to Vanity Fair that it “was first issued 10 years ago for violating the order of protection and remains in place today.”

His daughters were losing their home. Their mother was drowning in debt. But Ritossa was busy building a new life with a manufactured persona.

He began calling himself the chairman of the Ritossa Family Office and boasting about his “30 years” of investment experience. Never mind that he was born in 1969, which would have meant he started work in his early teens. In truth, his professional life had cratered. He had not held “senior executive positions at Nomura, Barclays Capital, Morgan Stanley, BNP Paribas, and Bankers Trust,” as he claims online. Instead, sources familiar with his work at each institution confirmed that he held junior to midlevel jobs. And at Barclays, he was allegedly terminated for “compliance issues” that involved improperly disseminating proprietary bank information, sources told me. (Barclays declined to elaborate.)

Records held by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which oversees US broker-dealers, show Ritossa’s Wall Street tenure to have been more peripatetic than “distinguished.” For 12 years he worked at eight firms, making it difficult to build a book of business, much less amass a fortune from it. His middling run in Manhattan finance—along with his last gig, at AlphaSource Capital Securities—went out with a whimper after he refused to attend FINRA-mandated compliance training and left the company. “While at AlphaSource, he was clearly not living in the lap of luxury,” a former coworker recalled when I asked if Ritossa came from money. “He was trying to eke out a living. I think he couldn’t cover his expenses, and at some point he accepted defeat and changed strategies.”

Part of that new strategy was to completely recast his presence on the internet.

At a time when digital fingerprints are harder than ever to erase, Ritossa has done the impossible: His online profile contains nary a blemish. He is instead a “family office influencer, impact investor…mentor, philanthropist, author and highly sought-after speaker.” Not to mention “a 2021 nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.” His internet persona, in fact, is a constellation of pristine bios, astroturfed articles, and laudatory websites that link back to and reinforce one another.

This is no accident. Cyber experts I consulted scanned the dark web, deep web, proprietary databases, and myriad open-source intelligence platforms and found evidence of “data hydrology,” a systematic effort to water down or expunge unfavorable information and replace it with a shimmering new narrative. This was not some run-of-the-mill search engine optimization that people and companies use to boost their profile and bury their foibles. In the view of these experts, this was next-level shit—because as far as the internet is concerned, Anthony Ritossa arrived on planet Earth a decade ago and has been doing extraordinary things ever since.

This image overhaul may or may not have been possible, however, without His Highness Mahmoud Salah-Al-Din Assaf, a man whom Middle Eastern royal watchers refer to as a “milk sheikh,” someone who may have exaggerated or even created his honorific. In 2015, Assaf, by his own admission, certified his status with the Heraldrys Institute of Rome, which sells documents online depicting a family history, blazon, crest, coat of arms, and references to nobility—for $200 to $300, depending on whether the customer wants a PDF or a version on handmade paper.

Prince Assaf, in fact, used to be a US defense contractor. But before long, he started some remarkable businesses that are ultimately associated with a California strip mall. One of them disinfects car interiors. Another washes, waxes, rehabs, and rebuilds the public image of “high profile clients.” Zeus & Nova International, registered in Assaf’s name, offers to arrange “royal titles bestowed by the world’s premier noble families” as well as honorary doctorates and professorships, religious recognitions, and memberships at chivalry clubs. The company also provides clients “access to the world’s renowned events, from the Oscar Award [sic] ceremonies to the Royal Imperial Balls across Europe.”

Zeus & Nova is registered to the same Orange County complex as a Mexican restaurant and a head lice removal service called Lizzie’s Lice Pickers. When I went to eyeball the place, however, I discovered that Assaf had moved out last year, though the business is still active online. I ran into “Lizzie” and showed her pictures of Assaf; she confirmed his identity, saying she remembered him working late hours “dealing with stuff overseas,” adding, “I never heard he was a prince.”

On a Venn diagram of Ritossa World, Assaf has served as “royal patron” for the Knights Society of Elviña and AKBS, which is apropos given that Zeus & Nova is selling people honorary titles and degrees. Meanwhile, Assaf’s cohort Freire-Garabal, the knighthood’s grand chancellor, acts as chairman of AKBS and sits on Sir Anthony’s advisory board for the summits. As for Ritossa, he became a “sir” courtesy of the knights and is a senior adviser to Prince Assaf—who awarded Ritossa the Grand Cross from the Royal Order of Banu Assaf at Monaco’s 2021 gathering. (Sir Anthony has also received an honorary doctorate from AKBS, where he is supposedly a professor and a member of the advisory board.)

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