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Serial fraudster who conned young men out of thousands of pounds jailed

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Serial fraudster who conned young men out of thousands of pounds jailed

A serial fraudster who tricked men into thinking he was a successful fashion designer to get them to hand over thousands of pounds in cash has been jailed following a multi-force investigation.

The Metropolitan Police Service, Thames Valley Police and West Midlands Police worked together to investigate career conman Paolo Aldorasi, 39 (10.11.82), an Italian national of Carnwath Road, Hammersmith and Fulham, following a series of identical offences where Aldorasi approached young men and befriended them, before pressuring them to withdraw large sums of cash from ATMs.

He pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud by false representation at Southwark Crown Court and was sentenced on Tuesday, 21 June at the same court to two years and nine months' imprisonment. He received a reduced sentence due to his early guilty plea.

At sentencing, the judge called Aldorasi 'shameless' and said he was a ‘confidence trickster’ who left humiliation and misery in his wake. He also added how many of Aldorasi's victims now feel shame and are cynical and less trusting of strangers.

Detective Constable Christine Metz, Central West Command Unit, led the investigation into the London-based offences. She said: “Aldorasi is a career criminal who thinks nothing of using dishonesty to make a gain for himself, with absolutely no regard to the lasting impact his crimes have had on his victims. He has a history of convictions in the UK and US and is also known to Australian authorities, all for similar offending.

“The young men taken in by his ruse have been left deeply upset, some too ashamed and embarrassed to even tell their families what had happened. It has really affected their confidence and ability to meet and trust new people. Aldorasi fully deserves a custodial sentence for the impact he has had on them.”

The series of frauds began on 17 June 2020 in Kensington Road W8, with further reports across London, Coventry and Oxford through to November 2021.

The method of each was identical. Aldorasi would spot a target in the street, typically South East Asian men aged in their late teens or early 20s, and tell them he was an Italian fashion designer.

He would invite them into his expensive car and give them items of clothing before telling them he had gambled all of his money away the night before and urgently needed a cash loan to pay his car rental at the airport that afternoon.

He would harass and pressure the victims, who were often newly arrived in the country and naïve, before driving them to a cash machine.

Some would trust that they would be paid back, while others felt too intimidated by him to say no.

Aldorasi would then take the cash and the victims would not see or hear from him again.

A further two reports were received after the first incident and an investigation was launched, with Aldorasi soon identified as a suspect due to the identical method, physical descriptions of him, and a telephone number he’d given the victims which was traced back to him.

He was arrested in November 2020 for the London offences and released under investigation.

However he then went on to commit further offences in Oxford and later Coventry. Officers from Thames Valley and West Midlands Police were investigating those offences when they found out about the London incidents and then contacted the Met.

He was arrested again in January 2021 and again released under investigation, before returning to commit three further offences in London in October and November 2021.

His actions had become increasingly brazen; whereas he would initially direct the victims to a cash machine as he waited in his car nearby, later on he would get out and follow them, hovering around as they stood at the machine.

In one instance in Kensington in October 2021 CCTV captures the victim entering £250 to be withdrawn before the watching Aldorasi leans in and punches in £500 instead. The victim gets into the car and hands him the money before getting back out. Aldorasi then drives off.

Aldorasi was charged and remanded in December 2021 to await trial.

Detectives from the three force areas gathered a wealth of evidence, including the clothing items Aldorasi had used to trick the victims, witness statements and CCTV capturing the offences, leaving Aldorasi with no option but to later change his plea to guilty.

The total amount of money taken was nearly £34,000, with victims handing over between £500 and £8,000 at a time.

Detective Constable Christine Metz, from the Central West Command Unit, said: “Aldorasi relied on the trusting nature of the victims, who were often international students and fairly new to the country, and began his interactions in a friendly enough way to gain their confidence, wowing them with extravagant stories about a fictitious jet-set lifestyle as a supposed fashion designer.

“This would be backed up by his provision of items of clothing and a nice car. Soon enough his demeanour would change and the same men who had initially been impressed by him would then be intimidated by him and afraid of his aggression. His behaviour was imposing and threatening and the victims often feared they would be subject to violence if they declined to help him. Aldorasi is masterful in his ability to trick people in this way, as his offending history shows.

“We’re very grateful to those victims who have come forward and supported this investigation. I’d also like to thank our colleagues in Thames Valley and West Midlands Police in what has been a true team effort to apprehend a serial fraudster.”

Thames Valley Police said: "Aldorasi saw an opportunity to target and exploit the kind and trusting nature of the victims, using pressure and force to make a gain for himself to satisfy his criminal lifestyle.

"Thames Valley Police were quick to link the series of offending in our area which further identified an ongoing investigation within the Metropolitan Police. All forces worked together to obtain the relevant evidence and strengthen our position leaving Aldorasi no other opportunity other than to plead guilty.

"We would like to give credit to the victims who bravely came forward to report this, often shaken and embarassed by what had happened and having suffered significant financial and emotional loss."

+ Breakdown of offence locations and how much victims handed over:

  • 17 June 2020 – Kensington Road W8 = £1,000
  • 26 June 2020 – Shaftesbury Avenue W1 = £1,100
  • 7 Sept 2020 – Drayton Gardens SW10 = £2,368
  • 8 Sept 2020 – Gloucester Road SW7 = £3,000
  • 14 Sept 2020 – Cowley Road, Oxford = £2,750
  • 25 Sept 2020 – Mansfield Road, Oxford = £3,200
  • 7 Oct 2020 – Woodstock Road, Oxford = £1,900
  • 9 Oct 2020 – Mansfield Road, Oxford = £1,900
  • 14 Oct 2020 – Parks Road, Oxford = £2,250
  • 21 Oct 2020 – Museum Road, Oxford = £1,250
  • 29 Oct 2020 – Parks Road, Oxford = £8,000
  • 8 Dec 2020 – Centenary Road, Coventry = £2,000
  • 19 Oct 2021 – Kensington High Street W8 = £1,000
  • 28 Oct 2021 – Kensington Gore SW7 = £500
  • 2 Nov 2021 – Queens Gate SW7 = £1,600

Anyone can be the victim of fraud.

Remember these ten golden rules to help you prevent fraud and beat the scammers.

Be suspicious of all ‘too good to be true’ offers and deals.

Don’t agree to offers or deals immediately. Insist on time to get independent or legal advice before making a decision

Don’t hand over money or sign anything until you’ve checked someone’s credentials and their company’s.

Don’t be embarrassed about reporting a scam. Because the scammers are cunning and clever there’s no shame in being deceived. By reporting it, you'll make it more difficult for them to deceive others.

Call us on 101 if you know the suspect or they’re still in the area.

Remember that if you’re a victim of a scam or an attempted scam, however minor, there may be hundreds or thousands of others in a similar position.
Your information may form part of one big jigsaw and be vital to completing the picture.

For more information re preventing fraud visit here:
https://www.met.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/fa/fraud/personal-fraud/prevent-personal-fraud/

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