An Italian man, Roberto Guglielmi, who faked disability for 12 years and received £118,000 in benefits and other special privileges has been exposed after he was seen on Tuesday walking through the airport without assistance.
According to prosecutors, Guglielmi, 55 pretended to be wheelchair-bound following a car accident in 2007 but it has now been discovered that the crash was faked along with his disability claim.
Guglielmi from Florence allegedly injected his legs with an anesthetic to weaken the muscle tone and underwent painful physical therapy in order to fool doctors.
He was exposed after being seen at Florence’s international airport returning from a holiday in Togo. Authorities say he walked off the plane without assistance.
Guglielmi devised the scheme in 2007 along with his house-mate as a way for the pair to avoid paying rent, according to Repubblica reports.
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.
He was granted disability allowance after the accident, which allowed him to pay a home care assistant. Guglielmi was also given a disabled parking bay outside his home and allowed use of disabled parking bays and driving lanes.
Prosecutors say Guglielmi’s deceptions over the years became more and more extreme as he became a campaigner for disabled rights in local newspapers.
In 2014, Guglielmi was given the privilege to meet with Pope Francis after he heard his story.
Prosecutors also claimed that while Mr. Guglielmi maintained that he was disable in public, he walks normally at home and was seen walking normally outside of Florence, including in front of his home carer.
Hidden camera footage taken by detectives inside Guglielmi’s home appears to show him 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.
Watch the video