A Hundred Football Stars Caught In 30million Investment Scam Linked To Former Player

A hundred football stars including Robbie Keane caught in £30million investment scam linked to former player

A hundred football stars including Robbie Keane caught in £30million investment scam linked to former player

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A hundred football stars are feared to have been caught in an alleged £30million investment con.

Players said to ­have lost out include Jimmy Bullard, who also starred in I’m A Celebrity, and Irish legend Robbie Keane.

Police believe the alleged­ fraud may be the biggest swindle ever to hit the British game.

Up to 100 players including former Spurs, Liverpool and Ireland legend Robbie Keane and ex-Fulham ­midfielder Jimmy Bullard are said to have been lured by promises of a huge 20%-a-month return.

But the scheme collapsed amid huge debts and detectives are probing ­alleged links to massive gambling on soccer matches.

Bookmakers William Hill have handed investigators details of the betting account of Michael McIndoe, a retired player who led a lavish lifestyle and is said to have recruited other footballers into the investment venture.

Former Coventry, Wolves and Scotland midfielder McIndoe, 35, went bankrupt in October with disclosed debts of £3million. But recovery experts believe that is the tip of the iceberg.

A source close to the case said: “The money lost has been astronomical. The £3million mentioned in his insolvency papers is a very conservative figure.

“It could be up to £15million once all the money is traced.”

CTUnder investigation: Michael McIndoe

Bullard, 36, whose clubs also ­included Hull City and who appeared on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity last month, lost £650,000. Losses of Dublin-born striker Keane, 34, now with LA Galaxy, have been described as “a fortune”.

One international star is understood to have invested £1million. Another recently retired player lost nearly £500,000.

Fraud squad officers have been checking scores of named players since the alleged con was ­reported to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau last year. The FA is believed to be aware of the probe.

Big earning stars are not thought to be the only victims. Lower league ­players are also said to have been ­recruited. And a victim from outside football is said to have invested a £60,000 ­inheritance, bequeathed to him after he was orphaned as a teenager.

One theory police are investigating is that it may have been a Ponzi scheme, a type of scam named after 1920s fraudster Charles Ponzi. Some people who sign up may get early ­returns. But what they receive is cash paid in by others who have been ­recruited since, not from investments.

Most investors who are promised a healthy return will lose out as the scheme ­inevitably collapses.

Police and creditors uncovered a trail of abandoned addresses in London or Scotland linked to Scots-born McIndoe, who has dated glamour models Helena Fletcher and Emma Frain.

Companies House records show he became director of several businesses in 2011 after retiring from football.

One McIndoe venture was aimed at footballers and promised exclusive ­access to nightclubs and private jets.

GettyInvestor: Irish legend Robbie Keane “lost a fortune”

One investor said: “For the first 14 or 15 months no one questioned him. But people now know they are unlikely to ever get their money back.”

Details of his playboy lifestyle will infuriate players who handed over cash.

McIndoe, who was twice capped in Scotland’s B team, rented a £4,000-a-week suite in London’s five-star Mayfair Hotel. He also had in an apartment in Eaton Square, one of the UK’s poshest addresses lying in the exclusive Belgravia district of the capital.

A porter said yesterday that McIndoe had not been seen there for two years. Investigators also believe he rented a property in Rutland Street, Knightsbridge, West London, for £11,000 a month during 2013.

He drove luxury cars including a Bentley and a Maybach and wore ­expensive clothes. McIndoe ran lavish parties at clubs including Funky Buddha in London and is believed to have ploughed money into private members’ club Stamp on Oxford Street.

Details of McIndoe’s account with William Hill, given to official receivers, reveal an astonishing betting spree.

He made regular £2,000 transfers into the account, including seven over a period of eight days in February 2011.

He put money on hundreds of soccer matches as well as on American ­football, boxing, horse-racing and even TV’s X Factor talent show.

Bets were placed virtually daily on matches in the UK, Australia, Turkey and even Peru.

There were 561 online bets in a period of less than 18 months – from November 28, 2010, to May 5, 2012. Many were accumulators, in which the punter tries to predict a string of results.

His largest stake was £15,000 on Inter Milan to beat Bari and Crawley to beat Kettering on February 3, 2011. He lost the bet because Crawley and Kettering drew.

Other heavy losses included £13,000 predicting Chesterfield would win at Stockport on February 1, 2011. The game ended a 1-1 draw.

Action ImagesBig loss: Jimmy Bullard is believed to have lost £650,000

He also put £5,400 on Manchester City to beat Notts County in the FA Cup on January 30 2011. That match was also a 1-1 draw.

McIndoe lost £400 backing One Direction and then Rebecca Ferguson to win the X Factor in 2010.

The total amount he staked on that account at Hill’s was £391,955 and his winnings were £309,505.76 – a loss of £82,449.24.

But sources believe his total ­gambling losses could have been between £500,000 and £1million.

McIndoe was declared bankrupt at London’s High Court under the Insolvency Act on October 14.

Legal papers showed liabilities of £3,021,468.70.

Insolvency practitioners O’Haras Ltd, based in West Yorkshire, are ­trustees of his bankruptcy estate.

The firm’s director, Stephen O’Hara, said: “We are looking to recover monies which have been lost through his gambling habits.”

A spokesperson for Westminster CID said: “An allegation of fraud was made in February. An investigation is ongoing. There has been no arrest.”

McIndoe, who was popular in Midlands football circles, sought investments at meetings with businessmen and footballers at plush hotels like Hilton Hall in Featherstone, Staffs.

He allegedly claimed he was working with hedge fund managers, bank ­managers and businessmen.

An investor said: “He was very ­convincing and the best salesman you could meet. At the end of the meeting he would take money and put it in a briefcase and get back in the car.”

Players who saw initial returns recommended the investment scheme to ­teammates, friends and family. But the scheme collapsed at the end of 2011.

NIGEL WRIGHTJungle run: Jimmy Bullard went on I”m A Celebrity…

McIndoe left a luxury home in Leamington Spa, Warwicks, at that time. He then re-appeared in London, where sources said he continued to live the high life and convinced footballers to put money into a London nightspot.

One player who asked not to be named said he invested £100,000 with McIndoe. He said: “I played with him in the past and I think he used that to lure me in.

“I could name six or seven players who want their money back from McIndoe. I was due to get some money back on one date and then it was pushed back to another date. I am now speaking to my advisers and considering legal advice. I am wondering where all the money has gone.”

A source close to the probe added: “In all, footballers are thought to have handed over up to £30million to those behind the scheme. But those who were conned are ­determined to do all they can to get their money back.”

McIndoe played for Wolves in 2006 and 2007, then Bristol City and finally Coventry City from 2009 to 2011.

He has eight current and past directorships. One firm, Lafayette Restaurants, had accumulated losses of £231,227 on December 31, 2012.

Another, Huxley London Concierge, was incorporated in July 2011 and ­dissolved September 2012.

It produced one set of accounts and reported a loss of £37,620. McIndoe was the sole director and shareholder.

McIndoe was born in the Sighthill district of Edinburgh and has spoken in the past about his tough upbringing and his battle to overcome drink and ­gambling problems.

In a separate matter, South Yorkshire Police confirmed today that McIndoe is on bail charged with GBH related to an incident in Doncaster last November.

Scotland Yard today confirmed that an investigation is taking place into the claims linked to McIndoe.

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