‘Gladiators’ arrested in Rome for blackmailing tourists: 500 euros per photo

Flickr.com/Nigel Hoult


Three men who posed for photos in gladiator suits and other historic garb at Rome’s Colosseum have been arrested by police for blackmailing tourists. In some cases they have asked for 500 euros for a photo with them.

One of the men is under custody, the other two are under house arrest, reports the newspaper Courier of the Greenhouse. Five tourists reported the incident between August and September.

The three men, aged 52, 49 and 44, were active near the Colosseum and the nearby Roman Forum. Dressed as a Roman soldier or as a gladiator, they approached the tourists and asked if they wanted to take a selfie with them. As soon as the photo was taken, they charged astronomical amounts.

Forced to withdraw money

An Irishman who said he had no money was grabbed by the neck by the men and forced to go to an ATM. When he came back with 200 euros, they sent him back to the machine to get another 50 euros.

An Italian tourist initially had to pay 40 euros for a photo. When he refused, he was surrounded by three men in suits and threatened with violence. In the end the man paid them 150 euros.

The men fled from the police

In Rome and other cities around the world, costumed street performers who charge high prices for photos or look intimidating are routinely sued, but the fees charged by mock gladiators are unusually high.

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