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Former footballer Richard Rufus charged with £15 million scam

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The ex-Charlton Athletic defender, turned foreign exchange trader, faces three counts of fraud and other charges, after allegedly using investment money from friends and family to fund his lavish lifestyle.

What is Foreign Exchange Trading?

Foreign exchange (forex) trading involves changing one currency into another. Most trading in forex markets is done by commercial and investment banks for trade, commerce or tourism. Given the daily fluctuations in currency prices, forex is used by some as a means of making money, however, it is considered risky and complex, with no guaranteed rate of return.

Forex scam

Richard Rufus retired from competitive football in 2004 following a knee injury and began a property development career before entering the foreign exchange trading business in 2007. It is alleged that he offered returns of up to 60% a year from an apparently ‘low-risk’ scheme, and claimed to potential investors that he had a successful track record in forex trading.

At his trial at Southwark Crown Court, prosecutors allege that between 2007 and 2012 a total of £15 million was handed over by Mr Rufus’ friends and family for investment. The Court heard that £2 million was paid into Mr Rufus’ personal bank account and was never transferred to his trading account. Many people lost huge sums of money.

One of the investors was former footballer Paul Elliott, who handed over £425,000 between 2008 and 2011. He received back £460,000, but it is alleged that the returns were not from successful trading but from other peoples’ so-called investments.

The Court was told that Mr Elliott introduced other potential investors to Mr Rufus. One was Ian Clarke, who wanted to invest in an insurance claim pay-out in 2010. The money had been received after a car accident left him unable to work. Paul Elliott told Mr Clarke of Rufus’ investment scheme and that in 10 years, his £140,000 investment would be worth £1.6 million. Mr Clarke discovered there was a problem with his investment in early 2011 when he asked for a £20,000 withdrawal. Mr Rufus told him there was an ongoing investigation, the funds were frozen and to ‘hold tight’. Mr Clarke never received any of his money back.

The Court was also told of another investor, Ronabir Deb, who introduced 23 people to Mr Rufus. He lost £47,000 of his own money, whilst those he referred are alleged to have lost over £1.7 million. Another investor, Colleen Sterling, the Jury was told, lost £131,000.

Whilst giving evidence at the trial, Mr Rufus is reported as saying:

“I am absolutely remorseful for my family and friends. It all started to help them to make money and in the early 2000s that is what we did.”

“We carried it on to the mid-2000s and I always had a good intention. I have lost absolutely everything and I don’t want people to feel sorry for me.”

“Even though it has made me bankrupt, it is still my intention to make amends in relation to what happened.”

The trial continues with Mr Rufus denying three counts of fraud, using around £2 million in criminal property and carrying out a regulated activity without authorisation.

Unfortunately, none of Mr Rufus’ investors knew that he was not authorised by the Government backed City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to carry out forex trading, a regulated financial service. The FCA maintains a register of authorised firms and individuals and recommends that you should always check it before dealing with anyone claiming to be involved in financial services. They also hold a warning list of firms to avoid, which could save you from becoming the victim of a forex trading or other investment scam.

Some scammers will use the name and address of firms that are FCA authorised – known as cloning. While these are more difficult to spot, the FCA advise that you double-check the company or individual’s contact details against those held on the FCA register and never use a link in an email or website from the firm offering the investment. It is relatively easy to fake who an email appears to be from or to divert a website URL to a fake site.

If is extremely important to advise the police and your bank, and also report any suspected fraud to Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre. If you have lost money, then there may be a criminal investigation by the police.

Commenting on the ongoing Crown Court case, Sarah Spruce, Head of the Authorised Push Payment team at TLW Solicitors said:

“My colleagues and I are watching the developments in this case closely. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, if an investment sounds too good to be true, then it probably is! Promised returns of over 10% should always set alarm bells ringing.

There are regulatory protections available to investors, so whatever the circumstances, it is always important to carry out full due diligence or seek additional expert advice. Similarly, look out for any vulnerable or financially naïve friends or relatives involved in investment schemes, they may be too embarrassed or ashamed to get help if things go wrong.”

The specialist Fraud team at TLW Solicitors can help you make a claim for compensation if you have been conned by fraudsters. We understand the processes involved and the time limits to be followed. We have robust case management systems meaning that we keep progressing with your case and keep you fully up to date.

We work on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis meaning that, if your case is unsuccessful, we will not charge for the time we have spent.

If you, a friend or a relative have been conned out of money in forex or another financial scam, contact us by calling 0800 169 5925, emailing info@tlwsolicitors.co.uk or completing one of the forms below.

It is important to get advice as soon as possible as strict time limits can apply.

Meet Our Team

Meet Sarah, who heads up our experienced Authorised Push Payment Fraud Claims team.

Sarah and her colleagues are on hand to help with your claim.

“Promised returns of over 10% should always set alarm bells ringing.”

Sarah Spruce