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‘Blind’ man filmed giving directions and shopping

A man in Bari has been arrested after he defrauded the Italian state of €135,000 ($185,500) by claiming to suffer from “total blindness”. He was caught out after he was filmed performing normal activities such as shopping and giving directions.

'Blind' man filmed giving directions and shopping
Fake blindness appears to have become a popular form of fraud in Italy judging from headlines this past year. File photo: Freaktography

Over a period of nine years a 77-year-old man in Bari, southern Italy, claimed a total of €135,000 in disability allowance from INPS, Italy’s social security service, La Repubblica reported.

Just €53,000 of the total has been repaid to the state.

In a video clip (below) released by the Italy’s Guardia di Finanza (Financial Guard), the claimant is seen engaging in everyday activities including shopping and giving directions to strangers in the street.

Fake blindness appears to have become a popular form of fraud in Italy judging from headlines this past year.

In June 2013 forty people claiming benefits for blindness were arrested in Rome after police filmed them driving, reading newspapers, doing gymnastics, supermarket shopping and surfing the web in broad daylight.

According to Il Messaggero, they tricked the state out of some €3,583,000.

SEE ALSO: Not-so-blind justice for Italian benefit fraudsters

And in July last year it was discovered that a 64-year-old man – also from Bari – had been living off benefits for 30 years by claiming he was blind. 

He was snared by police after they used video cameras to catch him “leading a normal life”. He did his own shopping, crossed busy roads, helped out at the family grocery store and even drove a car, according to the Libero 24×7 news website. 

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CRIME

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

Prosecutors in New York on Tuesday returned dozens of antiquities stolen from Italy and valued at around $19 million, some of which were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

“These 58 pieces represent thousands of years of rich history, yet traffickers throughout Italy utilized looters to steal these items and to line their own pockets,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, noting that it was the third such repatriation in nine months.

“For far too long, they have sat in museums, homes, and galleries that had no rightful claim to their ownership,” he said at a ceremony attended by Italian diplomats and law enforcement officials.

The stolen items had been sold to Michael Steinhardt, one of the world’s leading collectors of ancient art, the DA’s office said, adding that he had been slapped with a “first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.”

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Among the recovered treasures, which in some cases were sold to “unwitting collectors and museums,” were a marble head of the Greek goddess Athena from 200 B.C.E. and a drinking cup dating back to 470 B.C.E, officials said.

The pieces were stolen at the behest of four men who “all led highly lucrative criminal enterprises – often in competition with one another – where they would use local looters to raid archaeological sites throughout Italy, many of which were insufficiently guarded,” the DA’s office said.

One of them, Pasquale Camera, was “a regional crime boss who organized thefts from museums and churches as early as the 1960s. He then began purchasing stolen artifacts from local looters and sold them to antiquities dealers,” it added.

It said that this year alone, the DA’s office has “returned nearly 300 antiquities valued at over $66 million to 12 countries.”

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