Fake degree earns IVF conman $385,000
MELBOURNE "doctor" Raffaele Di Paolo never graduated from university, but armed with this piece of paper managed to con his way into the lives of dozens of unsuspecting patients.
A copy of the fake university degree in Medicine and Surgery, obtained by news.com.au, declares Di Paolo, 61, graduated "with honours" from the Rome University in 1989.
The forged paperwork purports to show Di Paolo scored 28/30 during exams in his first year and 30/30 for exams in each of the following three years while studying obstetrics and gynaecology.
But none of it was real.
The documents were faked on Di Paolo's behalf by a clinic he worked for in Rome to protect him from investigators who were cracking down on charlatans.
He brought the paperwork with him when he moved to Melbourne and used it to scam 30 victims out of $385,000 over 10 years.
Last week, he was jailed for nine-and-a-half years by Victorian County Court Judge Bill Stuart, who told the court the fake doctor's conduct was "brutal" and "gross".
Di Paolo was also placed on the sex offender registry for life. He will not be eligible for parole until at least 2025.
The court heard heartbreaking details from a number of Di Paolo's victims. Women and men went to the 61-year-old's clinics in Brighton and St Kilda between 2005 and 2015 hoping he could deliver them a baby.
Instead, he indecently assaulted would-be mums with internal and breast exams, motivated by pressure to live up to his "disappointed" parents' expectations that he would enter medicine despite not getting the marks required.
He injected the women with substances that caused, on at least one occasion, a patient to experience constricted breathing.
He took unlabelled blood samples and injected men's testicles without anaesthetic, causing "excruciating pain".
On one occasion he asked the husband of a victim to inject semen into his partner before leaving the room.
When Di Paolo returned to find the sample on the floor, he scolded the husband, telling him: "I can't believe you spilt it."
The husband responded: "Well, I'm not a doctor."
One of his victims said she wanted to die. Others wasted valuable time believing they had conceived only to learn the truth when it was far too late.
His elaborate scam included a misleading CV, forged qualifications from foreign universities, references from doctors he had "hoodwinked", a website boasting about his experience and even the appellation "Dr" embossed on his Qantas frequent flyer card.
He kept no records from his victims, excluding an appointment book with simple details. When women came to see him, he never took notes.
"You knew you had no hope of assisting them to have a child," Judge Stuart told Di Paolo.
"You went ahead regardless, in order to con (your victims) into allowing you to do what you did.
"Your conduct was gross and brutal … you even bragged about getting a Ferrari from a family as a thank you gesture.
"How it is that you could tell a victim she could be 'pregnant by Christmas' … tell another you had a success rate in the 90th percentile … tell another she would be pregnant within three months is again utterly beyond me."
Inside the courtroom, a number of Di Paolo's victims were visibly upset. A number of victim statements were read to the court. One victim paid Di Paolo $30,000 after being referred to him by a friend of a friend.
Another was forced to take out a second mortgage on their home to pay Di Paolo who promised results but did not deliver.
Di Paolo's brother previously told the court the 61-year-old tried to become a doctor to please his father, who had a number of physicians in the family.
He said Di Paolo was ordered to tell family friends he had been accepted by a university to study medicine when in fact that was untrue.
"I believe he did it to keep my father happy," he said. "I believe he was severely affected by my father's unrealistic expectations."