Italian police have arrested 18 people for allegedly brainwashing vulnerable children into thinking their parents had abused them so they could then be sold to foster parents.

Those arrested include a mayor, doctors and social workers.

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Police in Reggio Emilia made the arrests after a year long investigation into the carers who used various methods to make children believe they had been sexually abused.

The children were then given to foster parents in exchange for money.

-Noah Harte