Not sure if you saw this story earlier this but the Huffington Post (really worth checking out the details there) is reporting that a fraud story even more sensational than Bernie Madoff has come to a head this week.
What can possibly be more sensational than ripping off 50 billion greenbacks*? Um, how about BMWs? And gigolos? And sex tapes? And possibly Nazis? Sounds like a job for Jason Statham, right? Nah, brah. A 'Swiss Gigolo' has been traipsing around Europe, swindling money from rich broads at every turn. The gigolo in question is a guy named Helg Sgarbi and he could play James Bond if they ever go back to a Roger Moore-esque superspy.
Dude speaks six languages (seven, if you count the language of love), has been in the Swiss military (the equivalent of the Guardian Angels here, I suspect) and worked for an investment bank (Credit Suisse before they added First Boston to get at that American audience). He bilked BMW heiress Susanne Klatten out of around $9 million and three other women with more cash than sense out of an additional $3 million.
How did he do it? First and foremost, with a killer smile. Old boy's grin could charm the paint off of aluminum siding. Then he used a hackneyed back-story that he may have picked up from Bill Paxton (or was it Bill Pullman) in True Lies. And finally, he was willing to engage in blackmail when all else failed. As his relationship with Susanne Klatten petered out (heh), he attempted to extort her with threats of releasing a clandestine sex tape.
Helg Sgarbi ended up getting a few years in the pokey for his troubles but has refused to return the money. Ironically, he'll probably have to payout a lot of the money he made for having sex with rich, old women to young, poor men so they want have sex with him (if Euro jail is as bad as Oz). From the Audrey Tautou film Priceless you'd imagine that Europe is lousy with gigolos, but this case has generated a u-boat's worth of hubbub on that side of the Atlantic too. Who knew?