Ex-footballer Richard Rufus jailed for currency exchange scam | Football

A former footballer who tricked his family and friends into investing more than £15m in a foreign currency exchange scam has been jailed for seven and a half years.

Richard Rufus, who played 99 Premier League games for Charlton, spent hundreds of thousands of pounds funding his own lifestyle after convincing those close to him that their payment would be low risk and high return.

He used his status as a former sportsman to give the impression he was wealthy and successful, when in reality he was failing to make a profit from his trading activities. Rufus claimed he was an experienced foreign exchange broker but was in fact using his victims’ money to reimburse those who had paid in as part of a pyramid scheme.

He told one victim that he only traded 5% of the capital investment, which meant 95% would have been retained safely – reducing the risk of incurring large losses. Of the £15m paid to accounts controlled by Rufus, investors received back about £7.6m.

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As a result of the scheme – which ran from May 2007 to the end of 2010 – relationships and loyalties between friends had been shattered, with many suffering huge financial and mental health difficulties, City of London Police said.

Analysis of his finances showed Rufus spent some £300,000 on his own lifestyle – including payments for travel, car finance, restaurants and shopping.

Among the lies Rufus told was that he did not need a licence from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) because there was an exemption that permitted him to trade on behalf of friends and family. However, the FCA provided extensive evidence about technical support in relation to the offence of carrying on a regulated activity without authorisation.

Rufus was found guilty of four counts of fraud by false representation, money laundering and one count of carrying out a regulated activity without authorisation, after a four-week trial, police said. The 48-year-old was sentenced at Southwark crown court on Thursday.

Detective constable Claire Sandford-Day, from the fraud operations team at the City of London Police, said Rufus “[made] it appear that he was leading a life of wealth as a result of his former career and investments”.

“Rufus deliberately deceived those who were close to him and those who trusted him to scam them out of substantial sums of money,” she said.

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