They’re don for: mafia loan sharks prey on desperate Italians

World

They’re don for: mafia loan sharks prey on desperate Italians

The large mafia organisations are muscling in on the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus

Nick Squires

For a desperate businessman drowning in debt and facing the loss of his restaurant, it was an offer he could not refuse. Turned down by the bank, 50-year-old Stefano accepted a loan of €20,000 (R385,000) from shadowy “friends of friends”.

He was able to pay his five employees’ wages and keep afloat his restaurant, in the town of Foggia in the southern region of Puglia. But two weeks later, the “friends” came back to tell him that with interest, he now owed them €50,000.

It was a textbook mafia operation – one likely to be replicated many times over during the coronavirus pandemic...

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