By Jennifer Popplewell •
Published: 02 Nov 2023 • 17:01
Bernio signing his hoodwinked contract
Credit: Bernio V Instagram
A notorious Dutch conman, who was previously an amateur football player, managed to pull off pretending to be a professional football player at numerous well known clubs.
The man, Bernio Verhagen, is now set to be extradited from Colombia to the Netherlands, as announced by the Public Prosecution Service on Tuesday, October 31. He has been a wanted man in the Netherlands since 2020 for cases of theft with violence.
Verhagen, aged 29, is originally from Suriname but grew up in Tilburg. He gained notoriety in 2019 when he managed to secure official contracts with four different football clubs, all without having ever played a single minute of professional football. He managed this with his art of persuasion alongside various forged documents. Each time he left the clubs without ever having played in a match. At one club that he signed with, Audax Italiano in Chile, he actually earned a higher salary than many of his teammates and purchased a mansion with the money, according to the club’s reports.
His deception was ultimately uncovered in Denmark in 2019, when during a training session it was noticed that he did not possess the skills to be even close to a professional player. This resulted in the truth being uncovered and he was then arrested for fraud. The Danish media referred to him as ‘the biggest football fraudster of the 21st century’, it was even reported that he continued to insist he was a professional player for weeks after he was caught in his lie and arrested.
However, in court Bernio eventually confessed to using fake documents in order to secure a professional footballer position. He was fined 2,000 euros for his crime.
Following his arrest, the Dutch football federation (KNVB) reported to the magazine ‘Vice’ that Verhagen did in fact have experience as a football player when he was a youth player at Willem II, a Dutch club in the second tier of football in the Netherlands. He played for them for one year back in 2009, however, a club member reported that Bernio did not display any notable talent, stating that he “played around four games without really standing out.”
As of right now, he is being held in prison in Colombia. He was arrested there in July 2021 when a party with professional escorts took a bad turn after he refused to pay the women for their services.
The exact date that the extradition back to the Netherlands will take place is yet to be confirmed, however it is reported that Colombian President Gustavo Petro has ordered that it be carried out promptly.
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Jennifer is a proud northerner from Sheffield, England, who is currently living in Spain. She loves swimming in rivers, talking to the stars and eating luxurious chocolate.
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