NEW YORK (WPIX)—Even though many of his SoHo neighbors thought that "Prince Josef von Habsburg-Lothringen of Austria" was a little strange, few of them would have ever guessed how bizarre the truth behind the alleged crown was.
According to authorities, Prince von Habsburg-Lothringen's real name is Josef Meyers and came to New York not from Austria as he claimed - but from the far away land we call Michigan.
Meyers is a 50-year-old con artist with a long rap sheet that includes a stint in a mental institution after trying to kill his own mother when he was 21, police said.
Perhaps the most incredible twist is that Meyers, who neighbors said never seemed to work, funded his lavish lifestyle and elegant Broome St. apartment by reportedly working as a high-level informant for the FBI.
Meyers skillfully played the part of a prince, neighbors said, albeit a rather quirky one.
Around the neighborhood, he was known for wearing spectacles and dressing in tailored suits and expensive clothing, even on the hottest days. Sometimes he would slip a cordless hair dryer in his belt as if it was a pistol, neighbors said.
In order to complete his appearance as an Austrian prince he would reportedly stroll the SoHo streets with his wife, half-Vietnamese, half-French beauty Michel Trico, and his children, all of them dressed in lederhosen and bow ties.
Add to his appearance his outrageous statements -- Meyer once claimed that he used to own a bank and that he wouldn't think twice about blowing through $100,000 a day.
The facade came tumbling down for Meyers on May 17 when he was busted by federal marshals for $200,000 owed in child support payments to his first wife. Officials slowly put the puzzle together, exposing Meyers for the scam artist he was.
The so-called prince is currently behind bars in a Michigan jail.
There is speculation that Meyers' involvement with the FBI may have begun after he was arrested in 1987 in a drug raid, but never charged. Police discovered 2 kilos of cocaine and an automatic weapon, according to the Detroit News.
Meyers is also not the first con artist to don the disguise of a European prince living lavishly in the Big Apple. On July 1 police arrested Guy de Chimay, a ponzi scheme operator who bilked his clients by telling them that he was handling investments for Belgium's de Chimay royal family.
De Chimay's investment companies reported that they managed $200 million, but the Securities and Exchange Commission discovered just $135 in his accounts.
De Chimay even appeared in "Wall Street Warriors," a 2006 documentary and reality TV show following the lives of several Wall Street entrepreneurs.