Italy: Crime network who duped lonely men out of more than €1m arrested in international police sting

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A crime network which used young women to trick lonely men into handing over more than €1m (£848,000) in savings has been busted in an international police sting.

The family-based gang, mainly Romanian nationals, employed women as domestic workers to prey on elderly victims aged between 70 and 90.

One victim was conned out of €20,000, EU law enforcement agency, Europol, said on Friday.

Another man suffered two heart attacks after a woman spiked him with Valium as part of a plot to rob his house.

Many of the victims are estranged from their families and living in the southern Italian region of Calabria, Europol said.

The women usually began a physical relationship with the men before asking for money, often under the guise of health problems or to help a poorly relative.

Some of the men were blackmailed if they refused the demands for cash.

Other members of the gang would wire the funds to Romania via different transfer services.

The gang managed to accumulate more than €1m (over £848,000) from their scheme and laundered the proceeds through investments in property, gold and cars.

An investigation identified 56 gang members, 16 of whom were key figures in the scam.

Law enforcement agencies in Italy, Germany, Romania and the Netherlands, backed by Europol, swooped on Thursday.

They arrested 13 people, including four in Italy, two in Germany, and seven in Romania.

A total of 23 homes were raided including 13 in Italy, where police seized electronic equipment and documents.

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