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Ex-Premier League player Richard Rufus ‘scammed friends and family out of £15m in pyramid scheme’

A FORMER Premier League footballer scammed friends and family out of £15million to maintain his lavish lifestyle, a court heard.

Richard Rufus is accused of pretending to be a successful foreign exchange trader to convince his alleged victims to invest.

Richard Rufus is accused of scamming his family and friends

But the ex-Charlton star, 47, lost the cash “hand over fist”, Southwark Crown Court heard.

It is alleged he used £7million of the total £15million to pay back investors in a pyramid scheme, while around £2million was used for his own purposes.

Jurors were told this meant Rufus was able to “maintain a lifestyle of a footballer” long after he was forced to retire in 2004.

The centre-back enjoyed the “trappings of wealth” and drove a flash Bentley and wore a Rolex, it was said.

Rufus also lived in a five-bedroom home on a private estate in leafy Purley, South London.

Lucy Organ, prosecuting, said: “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.

“He claimed he had significant success with his strategy in the past.

“Mr Rufus took over £15million 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 £2million 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.”

The court was told Rufus duped investors by claiming he could return their original capital within 14 days of them asking.

Even when his accounts were frozen by the the Financial Services Agency in 2011, Rufus continued the alleged scam by taking more money from investors.

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.

“Whilst paying investors fake profits, paying back so called capital, he simply paid his own bills with that money.”

Rufus earned six England Under-21 caps during his career.

The centre-back played solely for Charlton and made 288 appearances after his debut in 1994 aged 19.

His first-ever senior goal came in the Addicks’ historic win over Sunderland in 1998 in the play-off final at Wembley.

Rufus’ banger forced the game into extra time – with Charlton’s win on penalties securing them promotion to the Premier League.

He retired through injury in 2004 and was later inducted into the club hall of fame at The Valley.

Rufus denies three counts of fraud by false representation, one count of possessing criminal property and one count of carrying out a regulated activity when not authorised.

The trial continues.

Rufus played for Charlton Athletic

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