WEIRD NEWS

Mafia Gangsters Arrested Over Christmas Poinsettia Scam

12/17/2013 11:51 am ET | Updated Sep 19, 2014

If you don't respect the mafia pushing poinsettias, you'll be pushing up daisies.

Four Italian gangsters were arrested in Naples over a Christmas poinsettia "scam" in which they allegedly forced people to pay as much as $140 for just one of the Christmas Stars, BBC News reports.

But the scam was more of an act of bullying than it was a masterminded plot. If you didn't fork over the cash, your shop would be vandalized, police say.

For the past three seasons, business owners have been victimized by the alleged mafioso extortion racket, the proceeds of which went to the families and legal fees of jailed gang members, ABC News Radio reports.

Poinsettias usually sell for about $5 in Italy.

"It wasn't someone dressed like Santa Claus tapping on the doors of shop owners and businesses... Instead there were four emissaries of the Mazzarella clan," police told FOCUS News Agency.

Of course, this isn't the first time Naples residents have felt the squeeze. BBC News reports that it's a constant curse plaguing business owners in much of southern Italy.

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