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Wanna-be hunky hipster huckster impersonated George Clooney to peddle dude duds: Thai police

2019-06-17

Francesco Galdelli, 58, was arrested Saturday at a house near Pattaya, Thailand for impersonating George Clooney to sell clothes. (Royal Thai Police)

Rolexes became salt packets in a scheme that had a random middle-aged Italian guy posing as George Clooney. In Thailand.

Francesco Galdelli, 58, was wanted in Italy in the faux-Rolex scheme. But the would-be hipster huckster was ultimately nabbed for getting investors to sink money into a nonexistent clothing line bearing the star’s name, the Bangkok Post reported.

While his partner in crime, 45-year-old Vanya Goffi, was not posing as human-rights lawyer Amal Clooney, the couple were dubbed “Italy’s Bonnie and Clyde” because they were on the lam for years.

Thailand police picked them up Saturday where they were holed up in a villa outside the resort city of Pattaya, where they’d been hiding out since at least 2014, according to The Telegraph.

“During interrogation, Francesco confessed to claiming to be George Clooney and opening a clothes business to trick people into sending money,” Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division said in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The two were arrested on Interpol warrants in a collaboration between Thai and Italian authorities. They had fled Italy in 2012, which is when they became known as that country’s version of the notorious American crime-spreeing couple of the Depression era.

Never-stitched clothing and fake watches were not their only game, The Telegraph reported. There were many more scams.

Clooney first reported the fraudulent fashionista antics of Galdelli, Goffi and an accomplice to authorities in Milan years ago, but it took until now to nail the pair in a town with an international rep for sheltering criminals. Galdelli and Goffi had committed the fraud in 2010, according to the Bangkok Post, and Clooney had sued them in Italy – but not before they had duped investors out of 40 million Thai baht, or about $1.3 million, the Bangkok Post said.

For starters they’re charged with overstaying their visas in Thailand, the Bangkok Post said, but they will be handed over to Italian authorities soon.

Like Clooney, Galdelli was something of a philanthropist, known locally for donating large sums of money to help children with HIV – “a sort of Robin Hood,” international security expert Andrea Vitalone told The Telegraph.

But any similarity between the movie star and the mooch ended there. Galdelli and Goffi would reportedly rub salt in their ripped-off Rolex victims’ wounds by mailing them sodium chloride packets instead of watches.