Berne - Footballers have been warned by the world players' union (FIFPro) to beware of false agents who ask to be paid up front and then disappear with the money.
FIFPro said various players had been conned in the last few weeks by the fraudsters, who often play on the footballers' anxiety towards the end of the transfer window.
"FIFPro has received information about various players who have been targeted by swindlers," said FIFPro in a statement on Friday. "All cases have many similarities and one common goal: to coax money out of the player."
The trick usually involves the alleged agent approaching the player, either in person or through social media, and telling him a foreign club is interested in signing him, FIFPro said.
The trickster then produces an official-looking document, often featuring realistic details such as the club's contact details, logo, letterhead and a contract offer.
"The offer is very tempting. The document looks valid and authentic, but is counterfeit," said FIFPro.
Players are then asked for fees to pay for items such as alleged travel costs, a work permit, administration fees and taxes and told the money must be transferred immediately to a bank account.
"But after the money is transferred, nothing happens. The alleged agent will either completely disappear or maintain the dialogue and ask the player for more money because of 'unexpected additional costs'," said FIFPro.
"FIFPro has heard many of these stories in the past, but is alarmed by various recent cases of players being approached, especially in South America."
"The alleged agent usually contacts the player at the closing stages of the transfer window, which gives players little time to seek legal advice or to contemplate the offer thoroughly.
"Besides that, players tend to be more eager or desperate to sign a contract when the transfer window deadline approaches."
Players were warned to be "very cautious" when contacted by unknown people and to "never transfer money".
"If a club is really interested in you, they will take care of any initial costs," said FIFPro. "The club also has to pay for the work permit, and you need a signed contract to request it."