Gigolo Who Scammed German Women Goes on Trial

Swiss seducer accused of blackmail
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2009 2:32 PM CST
This 2003 shows Susanne Klatten, major shareholder in German luxury carmaker BMW and Germany's richest woman.   (Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Newser) – A smooth-talking Swiss man accused of bilking Germany's richest woman out of millions will go on trial next week, Der Spiegel reports. Prosecutors say Helg Sgarbi seduced billionaire BMW heiress Susanne Klatten, persuaded her to give him $8 million, and then threatened to send sex tapes of the two of them to her husband unless she coughed up another $50 million.

Klatten instead went to police who set up an elaborate snare operation. Sgarbi—who investigators say made millions over the years from seducing and blackmailing other lonely, wealthy women—faces up to 15 years in jail if convicted. An accomplice who some believe masterminded the scam, a shadowy Italian who ran a strange quasi-religious sect, goes on trial in Italy later this month.