Italian man claims €137,000 in benefits by faking disability for over 10 years

An Italian man has been arrested by police for fraud after falsely claiming €137,000 in benefits by pretending to be disabled. The 55-year-old from Florence pretended to have various disabilities for over 10 years. Police said his scam started in 2007 when he staged a road accident with an accomplice. He took on multiple identities, including a Carabinieri police officer who needed to use a wheelchair after being injured in a shootout. At one point the man injected himself lidocaine — a local anaesthetic used to numb tissue in a specific area — to simulate a decaying in his leg muscles, according to police. He was even granted an audience with the Pope in 2015. Evidence in the form of a testimony from a former carer and photos and videos filmed in secret that show him walking were finally used to expose the Italian. He was arrested when he returned to Florence airport after a holiday in Togo, where police footage showed him walking off the plane.

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