Italian Athlete Has 15-Year Online Relationship with Scammer Posing as Supermodel

Roberto Cazzaniga, a well-known Italian volleyball player, was scammed out of over $800,000 over 15 years by a scammer who posed as his online girlfriend and used photos of famous Brazilian supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio.

The current captain of the Gioia Del Colle volleyball club was introduced to his online girlfriend by a mutual friend, Manuela, who turned out to be the one behind this unbelievable scam. Using the fictional name ‘Maya’, the woman started sending Cazzaniga photos of Brazilian supermodel and Victoria’s Secret angel, Alessandra Ambrosio. The Italian athlete fell for her immediately and became involved in a very expensive 15-year-long online relationship with the scammer.

Photo: Pickawood/Unsplash

It’s unclear whether Cazzaniga lived under a rock for the last 15 years, as Alessandra Ambrosio’ face is one of the most well-known in the fashion industry, but he was allegedly convinced that it belonged to his girlfriend, Maya. Even though the two never met in person throughout their long-term relationship, only speaking on the phone and through social media, Cazzaniga apparently felt comfortable sending her considerable amounts of money.

Speaking to investigators, Roberto Cazzaniga said that early in their relationship, Maya told him that she suffered from a serious illness that required frequent and expensive visits to the hospital. The thoughtful boyfriend was more than happy to foot the bill, as well as send her lavish gifts, such as an Alfa Romeo Mito car. Unfortunately, these gestured ended up putting him in debt.


“I have so many debts, it’s not easy ‘waking up from a coma’,” a tearful Cazzaniga said on Italian television program ‘Le Iene’.

At one point, the 42-year-old athlete was enthralled with his online girlfriend, that he believed everything she said. He even agreed not to see her for so many years, while sending her thousands of euros.


“One day he was up in the room, in the dark. I see him crying, I ask him what he has and he tells me that he has fallen in love but this woman is in intensive care for a heart operation and she cannot go to the hospital because she would be angry,” Danillo, the volleyball player’s brother, recalled.

Cazzaniga only started suspecting that he might be the victim of a scam when he told his teammates that he was engaged to a Brazilian supermodel that he had never met in person before. It was reportedly them who contacted police to request an investigation since the volleyball player couldn’t bring himself to do it.


Police quickly tracked down the destination of the money Cazzaniga kept sending over the years, which turned out to be the address of a 50-year-old woman in Sardinia. Named ‘Valeria’ by the Italian media, the woman claimed to be a friend of Manuela and Maya. An investigation by Italian journalists found that Manuela and her boyfriend were the masterminds behind the 15-year scam.

We’ve featured some unbelievable scams over the years, but this one definitely ranks as one of the craziest. It’s almost impossible to believe.