Phony psychics given €150k ‘to get sick dad into Heaven’

It was a future they perhaps failed to predict: two 'clairvoyants' have been charged with fraud for allegedly duping a woman out of a whopping €150,000 – payment made to them in return for guaranteeing her sick father’s place in Heaven.

Phony psychics given €150k 'to get sick dad into Heaven'
The woman was duped by two 'clairvoyants'. Photo: Priscilla Santana

The woman, from Conservano, a town in Puglia's Bari province, paid €6,000 a month over almost two years to the phony psychics, which they said would cure her ailing father, or at least get him past the pearly gates, Il Messaggero reported.

But to guarantee this, they said the money was needed to buy three crucifixes, made by a carpenter in the northern Italian city of Bassano del Grappa.

The crucifixes were then ‘blessed’ by a non-existent nun – Sister Mary of the Cross – every 30 days, before being given to the fraud victim.

Thousands more euros – always paid by the duped woman in cash – were donated to the pair’s local “religious community” .

The woman met the pair – Lucia Borrelli, 51, and 40-year-old Paola Catanzaro, who before having a sex change was known as “Mystic Paolo” – at a prayer and spiritual healing group in Conservano.

“God asked me for three crosses a month,” the woman told investigators, adding that “Mystic Paolo” convinced her she was an archangel sent by God to deliver messages to her.

The woman only twigged she was being swindled in April 2012, after the pair kept asking her for money to maintain their spiritual group and to fund the distribution of the special crucifixes across the world.

But her moment of clarity came only after she had sunk into heavy debt, having borrowed from family and friends and taken out a bank loan.

The pair are now on trial in Bari.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


UPDATED: These are the Italian regions that now require tourists to register in advance

Anyone hoping to visit Sardinia, Sicily Puglia or Calabria this summer must remember to fill out a form stating where they'll stay and when they'll leave as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

UPDATED: These are the Italian regions that now require tourists to register in advance
Anyone arriving in Sardinia must now register with local authorities. Photo: Pascal Pochard-Casabianca/AFP

*Please note that this article from 2020 is no longer being updated. See the latest Italian travel news here.*

Since the beginning of June, when Italy allowed travel between regions again and reopened to European tourists, most journeys in Italy no longer involve paperwork – with a few exceptions.

While tourism is allowed and you don’t need to justify your reasons for travelling, some of Italy’s most popular summer destinations now ask visitors to register with the regional authorities in order to track and trace anyone potentially bringing the virus with them from elsewhere.

The process is separate from showing your ID when you check into tourist accommodation, which is standard practice all over Italy; now it is travellers’ responsibility to give their contact details directly to regional authorities by filling in a designated form.

The requirement aims to help protect regions that have so far had fewer cases as people beginning returning home from other parts of Italy, or heading south for a beach break.

The rules apply to everyone arriving, regardless of their nationality. Here are the parts of Italy where they’re in force.


Italy’s second-biggest island requires anyone arriving by plane or boat to complete its ‘Sardegna Sicura’ registration form, which is available online here.

The form asks travellers for their contact details, the flights or ferries they’re arriving and departing on, their address(es) in Sardinia and a piece of ID. Visitors must also agree to follow coronavirus prevention rules such as wearing a face mask, to inform local health authorities is they develop symptoms, and to submit to tests if necessary.

READ ALSO: Ajò! Handy local words to use on your next trip to Sardinia

While you can fill out most information up to a month before your trip, you’ll also be required to declare that you don’t have any symptoms no more than 48 hours before you travel.

Airlines and ferry companies will ask passengers to show their completed forms before boarding, and will also be checking travellers’ temperature.

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP


Until September 30th, all visitors should register on the Sicilia Si Cura website (also available as an app). 

READ ALSO: Can Sicily’s plan to subsidise your holidays save its tourism industry?

The portal allows non-residents to log their presence and health status and to alert authorities if they develop symptoms. All information is available in English.

Tourists can also call the toll-free number 800 458 787 for assistance in Italian or English.


Anyone entering Puglia from another part of Italy or overseas must complete a form online (available here) and email it to their doctor if they’re a resident of the region, or to the local health authorities in the province where they’ll be staying if they live elsewhere (find a list here).

Visitors should also keep a record of everywhere they visit and everyone they come into contact with for 30 days following their arrival in Puglia, which they may be asked to produce in the event of an outbreak.

While the region says the requirement applies to everyone arriving by public or private transport, it’s unclear how tightly it is being policed. Meanwhile people travelling for work, health reasons, emergencies or to transport goods are exempt.

Incomers are also encouraged to download Italy’s contact-tracing app Immuni

For further advice, you can call the region’s hotline on 800 713 931 within Italy or 0039 080 337 3398 from overseas.


The southern region requires visitors to register online here

READ ALSO: Seven crowd-free alternatives to Italy’s tourist hotspots

You should complete the form before you arrive, listing where you’re departing from, where you’re staying and how long for. You must also agree to inform the local health authorities if you develop symptoms.

The form is available in Italian and English.