Italian police issue warning over coronavirus scams and burglaries

Police in the Lombardy region have warned people to watch out for fraudsters knocking on doors claiming to be Italian Red Cross volunteers testing people for coronavirus.

Italian police issue warning over coronavirus scams and burglaries
File photo: AFP

Caribinieri police in Lombardy, the region worst affected by the Italian coronavirus outbreak, warned on Tuesday that people knocking on doors claiming they need to carry out coronavirus checks are “not health workers but fraudsters”.

There have been numerous reports in the region this week of people posing as volunteers from the Red Cross or claiming to be paramedics or other medical personnel in order to steal valuables from elderly or vulnerable people in their homes, police said.

Thefts were reported in Milan and surrounding areas as well as in the Bergamo area.

Lombardy's welfare councillor Giulio Gallera said fake Red Cross personnel had also been knocking on doors in the “red zone”; the small towns in northern Italy which have been badly hit by the virus and are currently sealed off.

MAP: Which parts of Italy are affected by coronavirus outbreak?

“There are no Red Cross volunteers or any others who have been dispatched for such screenings”, Gallera said at a press briefing on Monday, urging residents “not to let anyone in” unless they had called for medical assistance.

The scammers are taking advantage of public fears over the coronavirus outbreak, authorities said.

Anyone visited by people claiming they need to conduct tests for coronavirus is urged to contact their local Caribinieri office or call the emergency number 112.



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 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.