A professional volleyball player was catfished into thinking he was dating a famous Brazilian model and was scammed out of $700,000 (£590,000) in the process.
Roberto Cazzaniga, 42, plays volleyball in Italy's second division, and until recently he thought he was dating model Alessandra Ambrosio.
Alessandra is actually dating fellow model Robert Lee, with whom she is currently holidaying in Hawaii according to her social media posts from this week.
According to Roberto, in 2008 a friend gave him a phone number, supposedly belonging to a woman called Maya who wanted to meet him.
Soon into their phone conversations Maya – who was actually a 50-year-old woman – claimed that the name was a pseudonym and that she was in fact Alessandra.
Speaking to Italian media this week, Roberto revealed how he transferred the catfish $700,000 over a number of years. He also turned to friends and relatives to find the money.
According to those reports, those behind the scam started asking Roberto for money, claiming they had issues with an ATM and problems linked to an inheritance fee.
They also claimed that her busy work schedule and a heart disease made meeting him impossible.
Roberto told Italian outlet Corriere della Sera: “No, we've never met.
“She made a thousand excuses, like illness and work. And yet I fell in love with that voice, one call after another. Contacts were only by cell phone, almost daily.”
It has now been revealed that three people were behind the elaborate plan to scam the athlete – the friend named Manuela who gave him the phone number, her boyfriend and a 50-year-old woman from Sardinia called Valeria who pretended to be Alessandra on the phone.
Corriere della Sera also reported that Roberto's teammates described him as introverted and naive, and that it was they who suspected the scam and called for an investigation.
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