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CRIME

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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ROME

‘Bank robber’ rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

Four people were arrested in Rome after a suspected would-be bank robber was rescued from a tunnel under a road, police said on Friday.

'Bank robber' rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

An Italian man had to be rescued after becoming trapped in a collapsed tunnel near the Vatican, suspected of being part of a gang burrowing its way to a nearby bank.

Firefighters spent eight hours digging him out from under a road in the west of Rome, before he was finally freed on Thursday evening and taken to hospital.

“Two people from Naples were arrested for resisting a public official and two, from Rome, for damage” to public property, a police spokesman told AFP.

The rescued man, one of the two Romans, remains in hospital, he said without giving an update on his condition.

“We are still investigating, we do not exclude that they are thieves, it is one of the theories,” he said.

For Italian newspapers, however, the motive was clear, with reports noting the tunnel was found near a bank ahead of the August 15th long weekend, when residents traditionally head out of town and much of Rome is left empty.

“The hole gang,” headlined newspapers Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, while La Stampa said: “They dig a tunnel to rob a bank, and one of them is buried underground.”

Other reports referred to the suspected burglar as l’uomo-talpa, or ‘mole man’.

An AFP reporter at the scene on Thursday saw the man brought out alive on a stretcher, after a day-long operation involving dozens of emergency service workers using mechanical diggers.

The tunnel began underneath an empty shop that had recently been rented.

“We all thought that the people there were renovating the place. So we had no suspicions and we did not hear noises either,” a resident, Michele, who lives in the same building told AFP.

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