Woman Fakes 17 Pregnancies to Collect Maternity Benefits and Skip Work

An Italian woman stands accused of faking no less than 17 pregnancies – 12 natural abortions and 5 false births – over the last 24 years, to receive 110,000 euros ($120,000) in maternity benefits.

50-year-old Barbara Ioele has had an unusual number of pregnancies over the last 24 years, which have resulted in years of maternity leave and a small fortune in state-paid benefits. According to documents filed by the woman, she went through 17 pregnancies, 12 of which unfortunately couldn’t be carried to term. The other five allegedly resulted in the birth of healthy babies named Benedetta, Angelica, Abramo, Letizia, and Ismaele, only there is no record of them ever being registered, and no one has ever actually seen them. Barbara allegedly birthed her youngest child in December of last year, but now authorities claim she had been under surveillance throughout her late pregnancy and they have proof that she was never pregnant. They are also accusing her of having faked all 17 declared pregnancies to receive over 110,000 euros in benefits and get time off from work.

Photo: Juan Encalada/Unsplash

Barbara Ioele’s case recently made national news headlines in Italy, and for good reason. Hers is a story so unbelievable that most filmmakers would consider it over-the-top. Prosecutors claim that her elaborate fraud over the last two decades involved stolen birth certificates from Rome clinic and other forged documents and doctors’ signatures, pillows to emulate a baby bump, and a rehearsed walk to appear pregnant.

To declare all her pregnancies, Barbara Ioele registered the stolen medical certificates with forged signatures and was able to receive around $120,000 in maternity benefits as well as years of maternity leave from various employers. Incredibly, no one suspected anything considering she had reportedly been doing this since 2000, but her luck ended last year when labor police started monitoring her latest pregnancy, following her around and gathering evidence that she wasn’t actually pregnant. This kickstarted the investigation into her previous pregnancies.


“I knew full well that my partner was not pregnant,” Davide Pizzinato, Barbara’s 55-year-old partner, confessed during interrogation, claiming that he had been aware of her fraud since 2012, when their relationship began. He stands accused as an accomplice but is apparently more than willing to testify against Ioele in exchange for a lighter sentence.

As for Ioele, despite the overwhelming evidence against her – the inexistence of her five children, the forged paperwork, the partner’s testimony, surveillance, etc. – she remains defiant. To avoid having to appear to investigators for interrogation, the 50-year-old woman produced two medical certificates – genuine, this time around – attesting to her poor medical condition. Still, she faces prison time for financial fraud and identity fraud, among other charges.

Posted in News        Tags: , , , , , ,