Category: Media & Culture / September 24, 2012 7:08 PM EDT
A man who posed as an airline pilot and travelled in the cockpit of at least one plane was arrested in Turin Airport using forged identity cards and wearing a pilot's uniform.
The 32-year-old, whose real name wasn’t released, allegedly created a fake identity as a Lufthansa pilot named "Andrea Sirlo," complete with a Facebook page that included fake flight attendant friends.
Police said they were alerted several months ago after "Sirlo" introduced himself as a captain to a Civil Aviation lieutenant, who became suspicious because he seemed too young for the job.
The national military police tracked down the suspect from photos on his Facebook profile, where he’s shown posing in uniform and sunglasses in front of airplanes.
He was arrested in the check-in area of Turin Airport on Friday.
Police said "Sirlo" had travelled for free on at least one flight as a "third pilot" sitting in the cockpit and they were investigating whether he had flown as an impostor at other times.
At a news conference, police displayed a fake uniform and said they also seized fake resumes, airline badges and an airport staff parking permit.
"The reason he did it was to create another existence for himself, a new, clean life in which he would be able to gain friends and access a different social setting," Turin police spokesman Filippo Vanni said.
The case recalls the 2002 film "Catch Me If You Can," in which Leonardo DiCaprio played Frank Abagnale, a real-life con man who is said to have flown more than 1 million miles as a fake Pan American pilot in the 1960s.
'Sirlo' is the name of a flight corridor over Turin.