The four men in Catania allegedly ran a “real criminal society, composed of professionals and financial consultants,” allowing people to illegally stay in Italy, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
Gaetano Augeri, 66, was named by the authorities as the mastermind behind the operation, involving three businesses.
He allegedly worked with 45-year-old Andrea Venturelli, head of an accountancy firm and 68-year-old Antonio Triolo, who ran a consultancy agency, to falsify payslips and other tax and employment documents based on fake companies. They were also helped by Nicola Ciccia, 44, who worked for another agency, the prosecutor’s office said.
Their clients would pay up to €500 for a single fake document, which would then be taken to the Italian authorities and used to obtain a residency permit. The gang’s services were used principally by Chinese, Sri Lankans and people from African countries.
Police uncovered files for over 300 clients wanting fake documents, in addition to €34,000 in cash found at one of the offices.
The gang was caught after police wiretapped their phone conversations, enabling authorities to determine each individual’s role in the scam.