FRANCE: The Cashier & the Con Man

Renato Grassi was not the kind of traveler who heeds the advice of the American Express Co. to carry no more than $50 in cash. A slim, 36-year-old Italian with a weakness for tall brunettes, fast Lancias, and all-night stands at the roulette tables, Grassi liked to have as much as $250,000 worth of francs in his little black briefcase when he took off for weekends at French casinos. The trouble was, Grassi invariably lost—and the cash belonged to the American Express Co.

Convicted on a forgery charge in his native Italy, Grassi...

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