Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Campania: Home To Italy's Craftiest Con Artists

Italy's Campania region is home to some of the country's most prized historic and natural patrimony such as the lost City of Pompeii, the stunning Amalfi Coast, the Island of Capri, the list goes on and on. Interestingly enough, it is also home to some of the worlds craftiest con artists.

It seems as though the world has Italy on the hot seat this month. Between Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's sex scandals, threats of kicking Italy out of the G8, and the story about two Japanese tourists being charged 900 Euro for lunch in a Roman restaurant when the actual bill should have been closer to 200 Euro, it sure seems true that when it rains, it pours (and sometimes in Italy, it even hails)!

To make matters worse, today in Avellino, (a suburb of Naples and city of origin of Tony Soprano, protagonist of the acclaimed HBO series "The Sopranos") A 62 year old woman was brought up on charges of aggravated fraud when police found her jogging with her dog. Since when is jogging at 62 against the law in Italy, you might ask? It is when you have been collecting a 100% invalidity pension for decades. In addition to jogging, locals say she is out every day ploughing her land and farming. Not bad for a 100% disabled woman, hey?

Just a few miles away in Caserta, according to the Sole 24 Ore newspaper today 200 individuals comprised of police officers, town mayors, and other city officials are under investigation for partaking in a widespread con which led to inflated and illegally issued traffic fines. Automatic speed detector devices were rigged to increase the amounts of fines issued, the personal information of those to whom fines were issued was compromised, and the local authorities are accused of lining their pockets with the profits.

Is it something in the water? Why is Italy known for the mafia and con artists almost above all else? Luckily Italian cuisine, fashion, and artistic patrimony help to tip the scales back into a more respectable position. All in all Italy never fails to amuse or surpise, and that my friends is part of what makes it so wonderful.

Update: The speed cameras around Caserta are now under sequester by Carabinieri, more here.


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