I'm curious under what legal provisions this bizarre story falls under in Italy.

An Italian man is facing charges of fraud after turning up for his Covid-19 vaccine wearing a fake arm. [...]

After completing the bureaucratic formalities, including signing a consent form in front of a doctor, the man, aged 50, sat down and lifted up the sleeve of his shirt as he prepared for a health worker to administer the jab.

Initially, the health worker did not notice anything odd, as the silicone looked similar to skin. But after taking a closer look and touching the arm, the medic asked the man to take off his shirt. His plan foiled, the man, who has not been named, then tried to persuade the health worker to turn a blind eye. [...]

She told La Stampa she could not see the man’s veins: “At first I thought I made a mistake, that it was a patient with an artificial arm.” [...]

La Repubblica suggested that the incident might not have been a one-off, citing a recent message on social media that might have been written by the man in Biella.

The Twitter post featured a silicone male chest half-body suit, complete with fake arms and neck, that was on sale on Amazon for €488 (£416). Alongside the image was the message: “If I go with this, will they notice? Maybe beneath the silicone I’ll even put on some extra clothes to avoid the needle reaching my real arm.”

There is however hardly any detail in that newspaper reporting under what Italian legal provision trying to get "vaxxed" into a fake arm would fall... So why would it be illegal?

  • 3
    Have you looked up what the Italian legal provision for fraud is? Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 10:57
  • 43
    Without knowing Italian laws on this matter, I would expect there to be fraud against the state if a medical certificate of vaccination was obtained through misrepresentation, or fraud against the health insurance if medical services were billed but not actually taken up by the patient.
    – amon
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 12:08
  • 2
    There is an English language description here, and it seems to require "The performance of an action of financial disposition" and "an unfair profit for the benefit of the offender or third parties" neither of which are clear here.
    – Dave
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 13:22
  • 7
    Ironically, this question was probably asked by the local politician and local justice in charge of the affair. "OK, he obviously did something illegal here, and we want to make an example out of him, so please get your law books and find everything we can charge him with"
    – Stef
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 17:22
  • The accused is a healthcare worker. If the accused were to succeed, and then contracted and passed on COVID-19 to a patient of his, would he and/or his employer be liable? In such a case, if the person then dies of COVID-19, could that be a manslaughter charge against the accused?
    – dotancohen
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 14:12

2 Answers 2


Article 640 of the Italian Penal Code under the heading "Crimes against property by fraud" begins (via Google Translate):

Anyone who, by artifice or deceit, by misleading someone, procures an unfair profit to himself...

And the article (cited by the OP in a comment) says the suspect...

...worked in the health sector and had been suspended from his job because he had refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The jab is mandatory for all health workers.

So, it seems the allegation is that he intended to "profit" by gaining a COVID-19 vaccine certificate and therefore unjust employment after attempting to use the silicone patch to deceive the health worker.

Edit following @jkej's comment observing that the alleged unfair profit was never actually procured. The more likely charge - depending on the actual evidence - would seem to fall under Article 56 which begins under the heading Crime Attempted (again via Google Translate):

Whoever carries out suitable acts, directed in an unequivocal way to commit a crime, is liable for an attempted crime, if the action is not carried out or the event does not occur.

  • 6
    Sounds even more plausible considering that the guy was apparently a healthcare worker too, and suspended from his job "Ansa news agency reported that the man, who has not been named, worked in the health sector and had been suspended from his job because he had refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19." reuters.com/lifestyle/oddly-enough/… That would have a more obvious "unfair profit" part. Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 14:22
  • 8
    Seems analogous to obtaining or attempting to obtain other false documents for obtaining work (like fake certifications or degrees, etc.). Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 16:52
  • 3
    So the fraud was around obtaining a medical certificate / fraudulently using it to apply for work, rather than the act of using a fake arm
    – Tim
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 19:42
  • 14
    @Tim the use of the fake arm was the "artifice or deceit" actus reus element of the (alleged) offence
    – user35069
    Commented Dec 4, 2021 at 19:54
  • 10
    @jkej - "But the unfair profit was never actually procured" -doesn't have to be. Most countries punish attempted fraud. You can get jail time in the UK for falsifying or exaggerating academic qualifications or work experience on a job application, even if you never got the job. Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 11:57

The proposed charge is attempted fraud against the state, but the prosecution is in early stages and things may change. (Translations done with help from Google Translate.)

«Per il momento il reato ipotizzato è la tentata truffa ai danni dello stato – spiega -. ma stiamo ancora predisponendo le necessarie verifiche. Al momento non è ancora infatti stato sentito nessuno, né lui,che probabilmente verrà chiamato già nei prossimi giorni e neppure gli eventuali testimoni».

"At the moment the presumed crime is attempted fraud against the state - he (the prosecutor) explains - but we are still preparing the necessary checks. For now, no one, neither the man or the possible witnesses has been heard yet; he probably will be called in the next days."


The crime would be covered by art. 640 cited by the other answer.

According to Brocardi.it, the profit element alleged in the offence needs not to be of a monetary or financial nature, even a personal gratification may suffice.

Per danno si intende una effettiva perdita patrimoniale nei termini di lucro cessante e di danno emergente, mentre per profitto si intende anche un vantaggio di natura non patrimoniale, come nel caso di mera soddisfazione psicologica derivante da un desiderio di rivalsa o di vendetta personale.

By damage, we mean an effective financial loss in terms of loss of profit and consequential damages, while profit also includes an advantage of a non monetary nature, as in the case of mere psychological satisfaction deriving from a desire for revenge or personal vendetta.

  • Interesting that last point. It could also mean that someone who pranks somebody else could be charged with fraud in Italy. Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 14:04
  • @Fizz if financial damages were caused, yes. My absolutely rudimentary and non professional understanding is that financial or financial-like damages (perhaps a lost vaccine and time of workers) are required on the part of victim, but the offender doesn't have to derive a financial benefit, only some kind of benefit that can demonstrate their malicious intent.
    – xngtng
    Commented Dec 6, 2021 at 11:20

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