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Ex-Premier League player and Charlton legend “scammed friends and family out of £15m”

Ex-Premier League player and Charlton legend Richard Rufus reportedly “scammed friends and family out of £15m”, court heard this week.

The 47 year old, allegedly claimed to be a successful foreign exchange trader to convince his alleged victims to invest. But the ex-defender, who offered returns of 60% a year from the “low-risk” scheme, lost money “hand over fist,” prosecutor Lucy Organ told Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday.

Rufus, from Crystal Palace, south-east London, denies three counts of fraud, using around £2m in criminal property and carried out a regulated activity without authorisation, between May 2007 and April 2012.

Ms Organ said that Rufus used some of the total £15m invested to pay back investors in a pyramid scheme, with some of the money used for his own purposes and led to him being “able to maintain a lifestyle of a footballer” long after he was forced into retirement in 2004 because of a knee injury, the court heard.

Rufus, who made 288 appearances for Charlton after joining the club in 1993, enjoyed the “trappings of wealth,”, living in a big five-bedroom house on a private estate in Purley, south London, driving a Bentley and wearing a Rolex watch, Ms Organ said.

He remained on good terms with the Addicks following his retirement, being invited to become an ambassador for a charity linked to the club, and was a committed member and trustee of a church, the Kingsway International Christian Centre.

Following his playing career, he became involved in property investment before investing in the foreign exchange market. But Ms Organ said Rufus made “huge losses”, while around £2 million put into his personal accounts for the purposes of investment were never even transferred to his trading account.

“He scammed friends, family and associates out of millions of pounds by pretending he was able to offer a low-risk investment in the Foreign Exchange Market,” Ms Organ said. “He claimed that he had had significant success with his strategy in the past. In reality, the investments were fraught with risk. He lost their money, hand over fist.

“The investors, rather than getting the risk-free returns they were promised, lost a great deal of money. Mr Rufus took over £15m pounds in total.” Described as “charismatic and energetic”, Rufus claimed to have a track record of being a successful foreign exchange or foreign currency trader to persuade investors parting with their money was a safe and low-risk bet, the court heard.

He also claimed current and ex-footballers including Rio Ferdinand had invested in a foreign exchange trading opportunity that was really a pyramid scheme.

Rufus was described as “charismatic, energetic”, and claimed that he had a track record of being successful in foreign exchange trading. This allowed him to convince investors to part with their money.

Ms Organ claimed that Rufus suffered ‘huge losses’ while approximately £2million was put in his personal accounts to invest. This money was never transferred to his trading account.

Paul Elliott (ex-Charlton and Chelsea defender), 58, was one of the investors. He met Rufus when Elliott was on Charlton’s board.

Rufus claimed that he had made multi-million-pound investments for a church, as well as good returns for other footballers and ex-footballers. He could not be identified for confidentiality reasons.

Between October 2008 and February 2011, Mr Elliott paid Rufus £425,000, which he then received back PS460,000.

Ms Organ claimed that the returns weren’t earned from trading success but were made by conning people to invest in the scheme.

Rufus told Ronabir Deb, the alleged victim, that some of his footballing buddies, including TV pundit Ferdinand were investing with him.

According to reports, Mr Deb lost his capital of £47,000 while 23 other people who invested through him lost over £1.7 million pounds.

The four-week trial continues.

This is what fans said as details emerge over how ex-Premier League player and Charlton legend “scammed friends and family out of £15m”…

@PhilipShortland: Strange, was allegedly only offering investors returns of 60% a year in a ‘low risk’ scheme. What on earth must have gone wrong?

@supercityL I saw Roque Santa Cruz after his transfer from Blackburn to Man City. Now *that* was a £15m trading scam.

@simonnread: I’ve known too many people who’ve been duped by a ‘friend’ like former Charlton star Richard Rufus. He offered returns of 60% a year from a foreign exchange scheme. It was another #Ponzi scheme where victims lose out. Don’t invest with a ‘friend’

@lushattic: If a deal’s too good to be true then it probably is.

@MissLauraMarcus: If it sounds too good to be true…

@hankyhaynes: I think it’s extremely sad that a legend & one of our greatest is in this situation. He always came across as the absolute opposite of what he is being accused of

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