Italian Police Bust “Casanova” Gang of Online Romance Scammers

ITALY’S FINANCIAL POLICE have busted a gang of “Casanova” online romance scammers who targetted women across the world from their base in Turin.

The gang of 19 men, from Italy and Nigeria, were targetted by a 3-year investigation that has now concluded with 15 arrests. The Guardia di Finanza worked with 22 other countries, including Britain, to comb through 30,000 financial transactions in pursuit of the Casanova scammers.

The fraudsters would message women online, posing as exotic professionals such as sea captains, pilots, international detectives, or military officers. Once a long-distance relationship has been established, the men would suddenly ask for money usually under the pretense of emergency medical or legal fees.

Many victims lost thousands of euro, while one woman had 1.3 million euro scammed from her over a number of years. The victims were mainly in Italy and other European countries, though also in the US and even China. Guardia di Finanza officers have so far recovered 1.4 million euro from the gang, who are currently detained as investigations continue.

Romance scams are a long-established method of internet fraud, though this gang is notable for its high level of organisation and the immense profits it stole from unfortunate victims.

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Written by

Oisin Sweeney

Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...