A “shameless” serial fraudster who tricked young men into thinking he was a successful fashion designer to defraud victims out of a total of tens of thousands of pounds in cash has been jailed.
Career conman Paolo Aldorasi, 39, of Carnwath Road, Hammersmith and Fulham, was convicted of a series of identical offences in which he approached and befriended young men, before pressuring them to withdraw large sums of cash from ATMs.
He took nearly £34,000 total, with victims handing over between £500 and £8,000 at a time.
The Italian national pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud by false representation at Southwark Crown Court, and was sentenced on Tuesday, 21 June to two years and nine months’ in jail.
At sentencing, the judge called Aldorasi “shameless” and a “confidence trickster” who left humiliation and misery in his wake, with victims feeling shame, cynicism and less trusting.
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 invited them into his car and gave them clothes, before saying he had lost all his money gambling the night before and urgently needed cash to pay his car rental at the airport.
Four victims in London handed over £7,468 between June and September 2020, while seven victims in Oxford gave Aldorasi £21,250 between September and October that year.
A victim in Coventry was defrauded out of £2,000 in December 2020, and three more victims in London handed over £3,100 in October and November 2021.
Victims, who were often newly arrived in the country and naïve, would be harassed and pressured, before Aldorasi drove them to a cash machine to withdraw money.
Some believed they would be paid back, while others felt too intimidated by him to say no.
He would then take the cash and the victims would not see or hear from him again.
Following several police reports, an investigation quickly identified Aldorasi as a suspect due to the identical method, physical descriptions, and a phone number he’d given the victims.
He was arrested in November 2020 for the London offences and released under investigation - but went on to continue his campaign of fraud 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.
Actions were increasingly brazen - with Aldorais hovering as victims stood at the machine.
In Kensington in October 2021, CCTV even captured the victim entering £250, before Aldorasi leant in and punched in £500 instead.
He was charged in December 2021, after detectives gathered a wealth of evidence, including clothes used to trick victims, witness statements and CCTV capturing the offences.
DC Christine Metz, from the Met Police, 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.
“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.”
DC Metz added: “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.
“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.”
A Thames Valley Police spokesperson 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.
"We would like to give credit to the victims who bravely came forward to report this, often shaken and embarrassed by what had happened and having suffered significant financial and emotional loss."
Aldorasi received a reduced sentence due to his early guilty plea.
The Met Police advised the public to remember anyone can be the victim of fraud, and to be suspicious of “all too good to be true offers and deals”.
A spokesperson said: “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.