A former Premier League footballer was convicted yesterday of scamming friends and family out of £8 million by falsely using star names including Rio Ferdinand to entice investors.
Richard Rufus, who played 288 times for Charlton Athletic, promised annual returns of up to 60 per cent with a business opportunity that was in reality a pyramid scheme.
The 47-year-old claimed to be a successful currency trader headhunted by Morgan Stanley, Coutts and Barclays.
However he was ‘losing money hand over fist’ and jurors found him guilty of three counts of fraud, of using criminal property and carrying out regulated activity without permission.
The total value of the fraud came to just under £8 million.
Judge Dafna Spiro told Rufus he would be jailed when he returned to Southwark Crown Court in south London for sentencing on January 12.
Rufus, who wore Rolex watches and drove a Bentley, claimed ‘football friends’ such as former England star Ferdinand had profitably invested with him. He scammed friends, family and associates.
He lived on an exclusive private estate in Purley, south London, and was able to ‘live the lifestyle of a footballer’ long after a knee injury cut his career short in 2004, Lucy Organ, prosecuting, said.
He was able to do so because he scammed friends, family and associates out of millions by pretending he could offer a low-risk investment in the foreign exchange market, the prosecutor added.
‘The investments were in fact fraught with risk. Rather than returning the profits they were promised, they lost a great deal of money,’ she told the court.
‘Mr Rufus took over £15 million in total. He traded some of it, as I have said, losing vast amounts, but that wasn’t the end of the fraud.
‘Of that money, about £2 million he never even transferred to foreign exchange trading accounts. He used this money partly to prop up the losses that his scams were making.
‘Making payments back to other investors to continue the pretence that they were making a good investment, a so-called “pyramid scheme” and partly simply for his own benefit, treating the money he received from investors as his own.’
Of the £15million paid by investors into Rufus’ personal account, only £7million was transferred into his trading account.
Rufus eventually had his accounts frozen by the Financial Services Agency in February 2011, but he continued to take money from investors he had duped, Ms Organ said.
‘That money too was never invested and never went near a trading account. He used this money to either further the fraud by paying investor’s fake profits or simply as his own money,’ she added. (DailyMail)