Monday. 27.05.2024

A serial fraudster has been sentenced to prison in the south of France for claiming to be a Franciscan friar for over 20 years in order to defraud well-meaning believers.

Going by the name of Don Romano - 'Don' being the French honorific for certain orders of monk, usually written as 'Dom' in English - the fraudster in one instance tricked a well-meaning believer out of 2,500 euros (2,815 dollars), which was supposedly intended for a children's home in Africa, the regional daily newspaper Nice Matin reported on Tuesday.

'Don Romano' had for two decades taken advantage of people's good will throughout France, even going as far as saying Mass and hearing confessions, the court heard, with the ultimate aim of obtaining money by fraud.

In his clerical garb and boasting both theological knowledge and an engaging personality, he always managed to fool people, according to media reports.

The scammer had even been jailed on several occasions for the ruse, but continued to play the same role nonetheless.

'Vatican undersecretary'

The subterfuge was exposed in 2018 when 'Don Romano' went too far and began to claim that he was a Vatican undersecretary, only to be found out during a visit to the city of Toulon when one of the priests he was lodging with did some internet research.

A court on Monday sentenced the con artist to 30 months in prison without parole.

Fake Franciscan friar jailed in France for fraud