Love for his children finally catches out the professional gentleman scammer

A charming gentleman fraudster who scattered dud cheques across central Italy while spending his nights in Trenitalia's first-class sleepers is today coming to terms with the inferior accommodation provided by Turin's jail.

He called himself Salvatore Frungillo and said he was a waiter from Naples. And for years he lived on the trains. Every so often inspectors would demand to see his ticket. Showing his identity card, he would claim the ticket had been stolen.

But the card was a forgery and, although born in Naples, Pasquale Corallo was raised in Turin. "He's never had a job in his life," two of his five children, who were not identified, told La Stampa newspaper. "But he's never done any harm to anyone. He's simpatico, he makes people laugh. In his own way he loves us. Mum tried everything [to straighten him out] but in 1999 she decided to give up. He was cheating members of the family and parents of my classmates."

Mr Corallo's wife barred him from the premises - since when he has been on the road. But he did not become a tramp: quite the reverse. He stayed in smart hotels and apartments in Lombardy, Piedmont and Liguria in the north and down as far south as Campania. Trading on his silver tongue he walked out of shops with clothes worth hundreds of euros. In the summer, he treated himself to a luxurious holiday in Le Marche, leaving a bill amounting to thousands.

Some of his scams were the simplest. A Turin taxi driver recalls driving him around for an entire day. In the evening, Mr Corallo exclaimed: "Oh dear, I forgot to tell you I can't pay because I haven't got any money" - and vanished out of the door.

He was finally betrayed by the one constant in his crazy life, his love for his children. Banned from the home, he was in the habit of waiting for them outside school.

After his last such encounter he went back to Turin station, to catch yet another train. The police were waiting. He was arrested earlier this week.

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