A massive operation by the Guardia di Finanza (the Italian law enforcement agency under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance) found that 1 in 5 gas stations that were examined on Italy's roadsides are "illegal.” As millions of Italians begin to plan out travel routes, they may want to think twice about where they stop to refuel the vehicles. At 1,379 of the gas stations that were checked on Italy's roads, 500,000 liters of gasoline were confiscated for being fake.
Unfortunately, this seems to be a sign of a larger trend of tourist and traveller-targeted fraud. More than half of the vacation rentals investigated have not paid tax on their earnings or registered with the relevant authorities, according to Italy's Guardia di Finanza with landlords in the regions of Puglia, Tuscany and Lazio being the worst offenders.
In the town of Taormina, the Guardia di Finanza identified several B&Bs that had no record of existing while the owners made €130,000 without paying any tax and more than 2,000 commercial businesses had no license. Alarmingly, this means that just over 2,000 workers were paid under the table. In Verona, the operation even uncovered a criminal organization dedicated to employing illegal workers that were subjected to inhumane work schedules and barely livable wages. The criminal business even involved doctors who issued fake medical certificates and employees from Italy's social security and welfare institute INPS who falsified documents.
As expected, the criminal ring also includes an element of narcotic trade. Nearly 600 suspects were stopped at various ports attempting to smuggle drugs, weapons and counterfeit cigarettes, resulting in 23 tons of various illegal narcotics being seized since mid-June 2018. A total of 9 million counterfeit goods were also seized over the summer with an average of 200,000 pieces removed from the market each day.
We hope you've enjoyed Confiscating Counterfeits! Be sure to check out more articles from our culture blog to keep your Italian cultural knowledge up to date and avoid scams such as these!