An Italian man who faked disability for 12 years in order to claim £118,000 in benefits along with special privileges has been exposed after he was caught walking through the airport without assistance.
Prosecutors said 55-year-old Roberto Guglielmi from Florence, pretended to be wheelchair-bound following a car accident in 2007 but in fact, the crash was faked along with his disability.
It is alleged that Guglielmi even injected his legs with an anesthetic to weaken the muscle tone and underwent painful physical therapy in order to fool doctors.
He was exposed on Tuesday after he was caught at Florence’s international airport returning from a holiday in Togo when authorities say he walked off the plane without assistance.
Repubblica reports reported that Guglielmi devised the scheme in 2007 along with his house-mate as a way for the pair to avoid paying rent.
The housemate reportedly agreed to fake hitting Guglielmi with his car, who then managed to attain a faked medical certificate saying he was unable to walk.
After the accident, he was granted a disability allowance which allowed him to pay an at-home carer, was given a disabled parking bay outside his home and allowed use of disabled parking bays and driving lanes.
Over the years, prosecutors say Guglielmi’s deceptions became more and more extreme as he became a campaigner for disabled rights in local newspapers.
He was also prevelleged to meet Pope Francis in 2014 after the story was shared to him.
Prosecutors also claimed that while Mr. Guglielmi maintained that he was disabled in public, at home and while outside of Florence he walked around normally, including in front of his carer.
Hidden camera footage taken by detectives inside Guglielmi’s home appears to show walking around with little difficulty.
His carer who spoke to Investigators confirmed that Guglielmi’s disability was a con.
Mr.Guglielmi is now being held under house arrest while further investigations are carried out.
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