HOT OFF THE PRESS: An Update on DON JUAN, Our Resident Caribbean Scam Artist
I was sure we’d reached the end of the Don Juan saga, but then, early in February, I began receiving emails from an array of Panamanians: businessmen, sailors, even newspaperwomen. It appears that, in Panama Ignacio/Nacho/Patrick/Don Juan exposed his finely chiseled profile to an even larger audience and took far greater risks. Then, in the wee hours of a January 2003 night, he slid silently out of his boat slip, leaving in his wake an operating theater’s worth of pain and suffering. Weeks later the recovery room remained filled with the maimed.
If the success of a con man is measured not only by the amount he scores but also by the depth of the scores he inflicts, then Ignácio Miró might well be the Hannibal Lechter of his craft.
Seems that when he fled Panama Don Juan left behind an even bigger number of ravaged hearts and savaged bank accounts than in Bonaire. John Dudley, who introduced himself to me via email as a private eye hired by some victims to find Miró and bring him to justice, said by mid-February he’d uncovered more than $20,000 “loaned” to our Ignácio and some 32 victims–the typical Don Juan gallery of trophy unmarried--and secreted--married women, plus–some otherwise savvy, prominent businessmen. The silent victims, who will never come forth with their tallies, can only be inferred. Lover Boy also made off with a dinghy and motor, some dive equipment and a computer.
Legally, Don Juan doesn’t even own DON JUAN, John said. The titled owner is a BVI corporation whose shares are held by a man named Paul Mitard, whose daughter, Marine, might well have been the sweetest plum of Ignácio’s 2001/2002’s Scam Crop.
After Marine introduced her new squeeze to daddy, Paul lent him $40,000, but was, apparently, smart enough to ask for collateral. Ignácio gave him the corporate shares but unfortunately, up till now Paul hasn’t been able to get any court order letting him seize the boat or take possession.
Journalists, too--female, naturally--dropped their professional mask of cynicism. Maria Mercedes de Corro—a senior editor at Panama’s highest-circulation newspaper, La Prensa—wrote me that a talented Italian photographer, also female, approached her with a heartwarming story about dashing Spanish yachtsman. After her own sparkling personal interview with Ignácio, Maria plastered dazzling close-ups of him on the paper’s Sunday Weekly cover, chronicling his sailing exploits in a feature she called “El Seňor de los Vientos.’ The Lord of the Winds.
”He told so many lies. I cannot believe his nerve, considering the fact that all of them were going to be put in print. I mean, somebody from Iberia could have read it. He doesn’t care about anybody or anything...he is evil incarnate.”
If most of Ignácio Miró’s ilk work a single con--The Unclaimed Sir Francis Drake Estate, The Nigerian Frozen Funds Switcheroo–then our Lord of the Winds scores higher for agility and adaptability. He’s got a linebacker’s ability to seize an entirely new opportunity from thin air and run with it.
Berthed in the Panama Yacht Club in Fall, 2003, he apparently jumped on a member’s idea for the first-ever Panama International Yacht Regatta, to commemorate the country’s Centennial. Ignácio offered himself as The Man to organize the event. He claimed to be a many-time winner of world-renowned regattas–the Copa del Rey, Antigua Sailing Week, the Tobago Angostura. For a modest $15,000 fee, payable after the March event—he would use his considerable influence and obvious charm to enroll many of his close friends–the owners of world-class yacht thoroughbreds.
Gaining stature from the Club’s prestige--while soliciting Panama’s leading businessmen for financial sponsorship and endorsements--enabled him to pounce on women and “loan” opportunities. Additional notoriety came from a very public affair with the daughter of one of those men, who announced their impending nuptials--and presumably began making plans for My Big Fat Panamanian Wedding
Ultimately, Nacho had to pull the plug on his Regatta game and beat it out of town: first, because he heard Paul Mitard was arriving in Panama to pursue legal claims on DON JUAN and, second, when his much ballyhooed regatta participants failed to confirm their entries in writing.
On February 1, the yacht club issued a public communiqué thanking all who had lent support but legally canceling the scheduled March 10-16, 2003 Panama International Regatta--for this year anyway--and disavowing any future relationship with “José Ignacio Llopis Miró (alias Ignácio Miró), de nacionalidad Española, con pasaporte N – 724942.”
Unfortunately, pain cuts deeper than legalities: Marc Wagner, commodore of the yacht club, wrote me (and I translate): “I lost much too much, because I lost my faith in friendship; and that has no price. Moreover, that son-of-a-whore stole my dinghy and motor–an unpardonable sin among men of the sea.”
A little later in February, DON JUAN--and Don Juan--were spotted in the Galapagos, Ecuador. John Dudley presumes they were bound for the Marquesas Islands, where, he says, “I have a surprise waiting for him.”