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Italian cops bust 'bone-breaking' insurance gang

April 16, 2019 00:00:00

ROME, Apr 15 (AFP): Italian police on Monday dismantled two "bone-breaking" gangs in Sicily which had been smashing victims' limbs in order to stage road accidents and defraud car insurance companies.

Over 40 people were arrested in Palermo after investigators discovered hard-up victims were having their arms or legs broken in exchange for a small part of the pay-out from insurers, police said.

Those in on the fraud included false witnesses to the accidents, doctors providing fake medical reports, physiotherapy centres certifying care that was never provided, and a lawyer filing the claims, police said.

The victims were "people on the margins of society… drug addicts, alcoholics and the mentally ill".

They were promised a cut of the insurance pay-out, but took home as little as 300 euros ($340).

The gang broke upper or lower limbs - referred to in code as the "first floor" and "ground floor" - by throwing cast-iron body-building weights at their victims or beating them with iron bars, police said.

Police initially uncovered the scam in 2017 after the death of a Tunisian who initially appeared to have died in a road accident, but was discovered during the autopsy to have had a heart attack after a beating.

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