Cape Town City were reportedly among several clubs bamboozled by fake footballer Bernio Verhagen‚ who was arrested for robbery in Denmark this week.
The 25-year-old joined the Citizens at the start of the 2019-20 season but was quietly released by the club due to the low level of football skills.
Former Cape Town City winger Bernio Verhagen, who has been accused of being a fake footballer, has been arrested in Denmark shortly after being released by a fifth club this year.
City’s spokesman Julian Bailey revealed that owner John Comitits signed the supposed right-winger from the Netherlands on the advice of a ‘well-trusted international agent’
‘But it turned out to be a fake phone call with someone imitating the agent. Unfortunately, we had done the paperwork but luckily no money had been paid over‚’ Bailey said.
However, it turned out that City were among several clubs that signed the ‘fake footballer’, including Danish club Viborg, who have filed a criminal complaint alleging fraud by his agents after his lack of skill became apparent.
Verhagen arrived at Viborg in October, ostensibly from Chilean side Audax Italiano. However, it is not certain that he ever played for that club, or others that he had claimed to.
Verhagen was pulled from the field after his first training session at Viborg due to the low level of his football skills, the club said in a statement.
‘There is a clear picture of a large scam that is likely to involve more people in several countries,’ Viborg said.
Danish police confirmed that Viborg had made a criminal complaint alleging fraud, document forgery and identity theft but said no formal charges had been put forward yet.
Making matters worse for Verhagen, he has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting his girlfriend, robbery and threatening witnesses, a local prosecutor said.
Verhagen’s lawyer said he denied the charges that he had been detained for. He had no comment on the fraud allegation.
Viborg said that a man claiming to be from the soccer agency Stellar Group had contacted the club in July, saying that Verhagen would be moving to China in January and that he needed somewhere to play in the meantime.
Stellar Group did not reply to a request for comment.
According to football statistics database Transfermarkt, he never played for Audax Italiano and there are no records of him appearing for the previous clubs on his CV: Moldavian side Dinamo-Auto and Cape Town City FC in South Africa.
Dinamo-Auto head coach Igor Dobrovolsky told Reuters that they had never heard of him, while Cape Town City FC owner John Comitis says the player was never under contract at the club.
‘He was never registered or has played for Cape Town City. He was going to, but we discovered that something was not right, so we pulled out of giving him an official contract,’ Comitis told Reuters.
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