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Italian George Clooney ‘imposter’ arrested in Thailand for fraud

An Italian man who allegedly posed as Hollywood superstar George Clooney to sell clothes online has been arrested with his wife in Thailand after years on the run, police said Sunday.

Italian George Clooney 'imposter' arrested in Thailand for fraud
Italian national Francesco Galdelli (C) after he was arrested on Sunday. Photo: Crime Suppression Division/Royal Thai Police

Francesco Galdelli, 58, and Vanja Goffi, 45, were arrested Saturday at a house on the outskirts of Pattaya after an operation between Thai and Italian authorities, officials said.

“During interrogation, Francesco confessed to claiming to be George Clooney and opening a clothes business to trick people into sending money,” a statement from Thailand's Crime Suppression Division said.

Photo: Crime Suppression Division/Royal Thai Police

The couple is also wanted in Italy for multiple scams including sellin fake Rolex watches online, the statement said.

They sometimes mocked their victims by sending packets of salt instead of the timepieces.

Their crimes led them to be dubbed the Italian 'Bonnie and Clyde' after the notorious American bank robbers of the Great Depression era.

Read also: Kiwigate: Police uncover massive Italian fruit fraud

Footage from a police drone showed the pair – wanted on an Interpol red notice since 2013 – carrying a bag as they were taken into custody.

They were nabbed after police surrounded their luxury compound in a stakeout using electronic surveillance and a drone, Italian police said in a statement.

Actor George Clooney told Italian judges Galdelli had used his name online. Photo: AFP

The case against them stretches back several years after Clooney told a Milan court that they and another accomplice had fraudulently used his name to promote a fashion range.

Pattaya, the Thai town where they were found holed up, is infamous as a hideout for gangsters and criminals from across the world.

“They stayed in Thailand since 2014 and never left,” police said, adding that a Thai court will charge them under local immigration laws before extradition proceedings begin.

READ ALSO: How you can join the Clooneys for lunch on Lake Como

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CRIME

 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

Italian police on Saturday arrested a mafia member suspected of killing two alleged Chinese prostitutes and a Colombian sex worker in Rome, local media reported.

 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

The bodies of the two Chinese women were discovered in a residential building in the upmarket Prati district on Thursday morning, while the body of the South American was found in an apartment in the same neighbourhood an hour later.

All three victims were stabbed, according to Italian media reports.

According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, footage from surveillance cameras allowed police to identify 51-year-old Giandavide De Pau, who had been prosecuted in the past for drug trafficking and sexual assault.

The suspect is reportedly a member of a mafia clan headed by Michele Senese, who is currently serving a life sentence. De Pau is believed to have been one of Senese’s closest collaborators, acting as his personal driver and handyman.

In 2008 and 2011, the suspect had also spent time in a psychiatric hospital.

It is unknown whether the suspected killer was carrying out a mafia hit or acting alone, possibly under the influence of drugs, which were found at the home of some family members where he is believed to have sought refuge after the police manhunt got underway, Corriere della Sera reported.

Several newspapers had warned of a possible “serial killer” in the Italian capital.

The body of one of the Chinese victims was spotted by a neighbour where it lay, naked on a landing. The woman, believed to be in her 40s, had suffered head and stomach injuries, the newspaper said.

When police entered her apartment, they found the body of the second Chinese woman.

Nobody in the building appeared to have heard the murders take place, according to residents.

“Everybody knew there was a house of ill repute here, I’d see people arriving at 2:00 am, 3:00 am,” a woman who lived in the building told reporters.

The body of the Colombian, who was 65, was found by a friend, Corriere della Sera said.

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