- City of London police found former Premier League footballer Richard Rufus to be operating a £15m scam.
- Rufus leveraged off his reputation and celebrity links.
- Family members, friends, and members of his church lost life savings to Rufus, who “acted in a selfish manner without any concern for his victims”.
Former Premiership footballer Richard Rufus has been jailed for seven and a half years for masterminding a financial fraud scheme. He targeted his associates, friends, family, and church congregation members. Self-made claims that he was an expert forex trader unravelled and led to him being convicted of fraud, money laundering, and carrying out a regulated activity without authorisation.
The 47-year-old footballer’s career included 288 appearances for Charlton Athletic FC and opportunities to play alongside superstars like Rio Ferdinand. He deceivingly referred to those connections when luring victims into his bogus scheme.
Football Scammer Uses Tried and Tested Tricks
Rufus’ pyramid scheme promised 60% per annum returns and was ‘backed up’ by dubious claims that he had been head-hunted by major banks, including Morgan Stanley and Barclays. Instead, he followed the tried and tested method of drumming up interest by making payments to early bird investors using the capital invested by those drawn in by apparently mouth-watering returns.
Roger Makanjuola, from the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service), outlined how Rufus, a once trusted church congregation member, operated.
“He took advantage of his status as a professional athlete … but the investments were fraught with risk and he lost his victims’ much needed money to the amount of £15 million. While making these huge losses, he put approximately £2 million into his personal accounts, allegedly for the purposes of investment but this was never transferred over to his trading account.”
The CPS has commenced confiscation proceedings to recover his ill-gotten gains, but the footballer retired in 2004 and has since managed to live a lavish lifestyle. His possessions include a five-bedroom house, a Bentley car and Rolex watches, so the chances of victims being reimbursed look slim.
Church Congregations Being Targeted by Fraudsters
Rufus’ scheme also highlights how churches are currently proving a prime target of fraudsters. The charges recently made against Denis Jali and John Frimpong relate to an incredible $28 million being swindled out of East Coast US congregation members.
It’s alleged that by operating within a circle of trust, the two men followed the same ‘business model’ as Rufus managing to create a Ponzi scheme which failed to deliver on its promises. Instead, it supported their own lifestyles.
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