“Paralyzed” who fooled pope: pretends to be disabled for 12 years

An Italian (55) has pretended to be disabled for 12 years and was able to successfully fool doctors, neighbors, and even the Pope. Roberto Guglielmi moved on in a wheelchair and wrongly received a total of 137,000 euros in benefits. While walking he is unmasked, writes La Repubblica.

To keep his years of fraud credible, Guglielmi went far, very far. Flashback to 2007: the man from Florence came up with a plan to stop working and to live on government support. Simulating a traffic accident seemed to him the most obvious ‘solution’. But for such a thing he needed the help of an accomplice. His own tenant turned out to be the perfect figure since he had rent arrears for several months.

If the tenant helped him, landlord Guglielmi would cancel the debt. The man agreed and, as agreed, one evening gently drove his Guglielmi car on the pedestrian crossing. The fake invalid has probably injected lidocaine into his legs for the first time since then. It caused the limbs to relax completely. A practice that he continued for years.


The police considered the colliding tenant statement credible. The falsified medical record did not cause the doctors any suspicion either. The plan worked, Guglielmi received his monthly support allowance from then on and was no longer required to work as a ‘paralyzed’ person. Every time he left the house, he used his wheelchair.

The man apparently did not have any fear of being caught, let alone living in the shelter. Once outside Florence, he put the wheelchair away and just started walking. The man then declared himself a cop, a ship or a friend of a famous general in the hope of receiving all kinds of favors. Back as a disabled, he wrote a letter to the Vatican in 2014. Successfully, the letter had reached Pope Francis, who promptly invited him in 2015 for a personal audience. Guglielmi proudly posted some photos of the maintenance on his Facebook profile. The 50-year-old asked for social support on social media last year in order to finance the medical treatment for his dog. It is unclear how much money he could raise with that.


His life as a fake a disabled person came to an abrupt end last week. Upon returning from a vacation in Togo, Africa, he was recognized by a nurse while at the airport. He immediately informed the police. Guglielmi was already handcuffed. His wheelchair was found in his car at the airport parking. Justice will prosecute him for the years of fraud that cost the Italian state at least 137,000 euros. It is not yet known when the man must appear. If the Italian is convicted and has to pay sky-high compensation, it is better to start typing his memoirs. Who knows, does Hollywood show an interest in a film adaptation?

"Paralyzed" who fooled pope: pretends to be disabled for 12 years

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