Zenit St. Petersburg coach Sergei Semak sent money to scammers who hoodwinked him by using the same WhatsApp photo as one of his friends, his wife Anna has revealed in an Instagram post explaining why she "ignores calls for help".
Semak's glamorous wife warned her following of more than a million not to fall for the kind of fake requests her family has received on social media, where her son was shaken up by a post claiming that one of his friends had been hit by a car, purportedly sent from the victim's mother.
The accompanying urgent request for money turned out to be a scam after she sent a message to the owner of the account that was being impersonated, reminding her of another criminal scheme that her husband fell for.
"His friend's mom published a post from which it was clear that on September 1, the boy was hit by a car," she said, describing how her son's hands had "trembled" after he read the "SOS" appeal.
"The description of the injuries was terrible; 500,000 rubles [$6,640] were urgently needed for the life-saving operation.
"Not long ago, my husband received a WhatsApp message from a former teammate. The photo of a friend on the avatar stopped him from being vigilant.
"The message said: 'Dad is dying of cancer, he has already spent all the money. Knowing your kind heart, my only hope is you.'"
The frauds blocked the former Russia midfielder from contacting them after he transferred "a large amount" to an account under the false belief that he was helping a friend in desperate need.
"That is why I am ignoring calls for help," warned his spouse, who has six children from her long relationship with the 44-year-old and remarried him last year.
"As soon as you ask for documents, a hitch begins. But sometimes the documents are ready – it doesn't cost anything to forge papers."
Top players and coaches are obvious targets for criminals in the lucrative world of elite football, with Semak reportedly seeking a salary of as much as $3.5 million from Zenit during contract negotiations earlier this year.
Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte is currently said to be seeking the return of $35 million in a lawsuit after the former Chelsea manager was allegedly convinced to invest heavily in an asset management company.