An Italian fraudster escaped justice for two years by pretending to be a nun and living in convents around northern Italy.
The 47-year-old woman, who has not been named, went on the run in late 2017 as she was convicted of fraud by a Sicilian court and sentenced in her absence to two years in prison.
She was finally arrested last week after spending the past two years moving between convents pretending to be a ‘sister looking for help and claiming she was severely ill.’
The bizarre story has echoes of the 1990 British comedy movie Nuns on the Run, starring Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane as bank robbers who dress as nuns and hide out in a nunnery.
The fraudster sought refuge in several convents in the northern regions of Piedmont and Lombardy, changing her identity each time she moved.
Police said they had interviewed several nuns who had been taken in by the woman, who is from Acqui Terme in Piedmont.
The nuns at one convent where she stayed for just a few days said she had claimed to be the niece of one of their sisters.
At other convents she simply described herself as a nun and didn’t say much more about her background.
One convent said she had pretended to be a mother superior.
Most of the nuns said she had seemed to be a ‘very kind woman’ who had easily gained their trust.
But she was caught out last week when a nun from a Benedictine convent in Gallarate in Lombardy’s Varese province became suspicious and called the police.
She told them the woman’s stories ‘were full of contradictions’ and that she kept changing her version of events.
When police interviewed the woman she seemed confused about basic biographical details and a stolen ID card was found in her possession.
After her arrest they established who she really was and have charged her with claiming false identity.
She is not the first criminal to use a religious disguise to evade justice in Italy.
In 2013, a 61-year-old Calabrian drug dealer wore a priest’s cassock while importing cocaine from France in a car.
Feared Sicilian Mafia boss Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina dressed as a priest to attend meetings with other members of the organisation in Calabria during 23 years as a fugitive before his capture in 1993.
Bernardo Provenzano, another mafia boss, is said to have occasionally dressed as a bishop during his 43 years on the run before he was finally arrested in 2006.