Thai police say they have arrested an Italian man wanted in his home country after he allegedly fled a jail sentence handed down for fraudulently using the name of actor George Clooney to lure people into investing in a bogus clothing company.
Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division said in a statement that Francesco Galdeli, 58, was arrested Saturday near the city of Pattaya on suspicion of staying in the country illegally.
Vanja Goffi, 45, was also arrested on suspicion of overstaying her visa.
According to Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division, Galdeli claimed he was the Ocean’s Eleven actor and opened a business. He then reportedly tricked people into sending him money.
The couple was arrested Saturday in the Thai city of Pattaya in a joint operation by Royal Thai Police and Italian agents from Interpol, Italian police said in a statement.
An Interpol notice had been issued for Galdeli, and he was arrested at an address provided by Italian authorities, Thai authorities said in their statement Sunday.
It was not immediately clear if the two had a lawyer.
In 2010, Clooney took the witness stand in Italy and accused Galdeli and Goffi of fraudulently using his name and forging signatures to create the fake fashion line.
They also orchestrated a series of scams, including selling fake Rolex watches online and sending customers packets of salt instead of luxury watches, Italian police said.
Galdeli was sentenced by a Milan court in 2010 to more than eight years in jail after he was found guilty of impersonating Clooney to trick investors, police said.
Galdeli had lived in Thailand for around seven years, police said.
“Until 2013, they would go back and forth to Thailand,” Italian police’s Andrea Vitalone told CNN. “They were considered respectable citizens and even benefactors amid the Italian community in Thailand. Galdeli even made massive donations for a charity supporting disabled children and children with HIV. Then, they went on the run.”
—With files from the Associated Press