Gang tricks German into 'buying' US embassy

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A policeman stands outside the US embassy in Rome. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
09:18 CET+01:00
A group of con artists has gone on trial for allegedly tricking a German businessman out of €1.3 million, by pretending to sell him the US embassy and the UN food agency headquarters.

Wolfang Kroll, 57, appeared in a Rome court along with three accomplices on Friday, Corriere della Sera reported.

The group stands accused of scamming a German businessman out of €1.3 million in 2008, in a series of fake business deals to buy key buildings in Rome.

Kroll, also German, presented himself as a real estate broker with prized property in his hands. He allegedly approached the businessman, a Monaco resident, by first offering to sell the Porta di Roma shopping centre.

With the help of Donato Perazzolo, a fake bank representative, Kroll was able to convince their victim to send €400,000 to buy the Rome complex.

When it came to buying up the US embassy building on Via Veneto, and the headquarters of the UN food agency, Fao, the con artists needed more help. Walter Baccini was brought in to impersonate a government official, while Anna Lisa Morganti is also accused of taking part in the scam.

The price of the embassy was set at €580,000, while Fao was supposedly on sale for €600,000. The German businessman transferred a further €900,000 to the group, before realizing he had been tricked.

The case has seen the gang’s leader dubbed the “Totò of Bavaria”, a nod to the Italian film Tototruffa 62 in which the main character sells Rome’s Trevi Fountain to an unsuspecting tourist.

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