Police are searching for a phoney priest who conducted funeral services before making off from each with hundreds of euros left by mourners in the collection plate.
Father Marco, as he called himself, told genuine priests at a series of cemetery chapels in Sicily that he had been asked by the families of the deceased to carry out the service.
Dressed in a dog collar and full Catholic robes, the "priest" conducted the funerals helped by two "altar servers" who were his accomplices in the scam.
At the end of each ceremony the "servers" passed among the congregation with a collection plate, before making off with the cash.
The deception was uncovered after the real priest at the Rotoli cemetery, near Palermo, Father Giuseppe Calafiore, was asked by mourners why he had not taken the service himself.
The police said the trio had carried out the swindle at several cemeteries across Sicily, picking out their victims by carefully scanning newspaper death notices.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
From the Telegraph: