"I live off money that women give me," the so-called "Swiss gigolo" told his country's police in 2001.
But when he allegedly tried to hoodwink BMW heiress Susanne Klatten, it looks like Helg Sgarbi got too greedy.
On Monday Sgarbi goes on trial in Munich charged with blackmailing a string of super-rich women out of millions of euros (dollars).
If convicted, the smooth-talking Sgarbi, who told his wealthy conquests he was a "special Swiss representative in crisis zones", according to the charge sheet, faces up to 10 years in prison.
According to prosecutors he first met Klatten, who has a personal fortune of over $13 billion according to the Forbes Rich List, at the Lanserhof exclusive Austrian health resort in July 2007.
At first the married mother-of-three spurned his advances but when Sgarbi turned up unexpectedly in the south of France where she was on holiday the following month, they began an affair.
Later in August they met in a Holiday Inn hotel in Munich -- suitably downmarket for Klatten not to run into any acquaintances -- for an "intimate" encounter that Sgarbi secretly filmed, according to the charge sheet.