Stars who lost money
Stars who lost their money to financial fraud (from top left): Rahul Dravid, Usain Bolt, Tom Brady, Mike Tyson and Cristiano Ronaldo. Image Credit: AP, AFP & Gulf News

Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt lost $12.7 million to investment fraud. Boxer Mike Tyson, footballer Wayne Rooney, NBA basketballers Dennis Rodman and Stephen Curry, American football quarterback and many others were defrauded of their millions. Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, American basketballer Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Indian cricketer Rahul Dravid and his compatriot and badminton stars Saina Nehwal and Prakash Padukone too reportedly lost a chunk of their savings.

There are plenty more. The list is endless. Why does this happen with sickening regularity?

Sports stars get big paycheques. Big money attracts shady investment managers. These managers easily hoodwink athletes who have little knowledge of finance and investment. Many others were victims of Ponzi schemes.

Here’s a random list of sports stars who fell prey to unscrupulous investment managers.

Tom Brady
NFL great Tom Brady had a 23-year career with Patriots and Buccaneers. Image Credit: AP

Tom Brady, American football, US

Tom Brady is an NFL legend. Winner of a record seven Super Bowls and five Super Bowl MVPs during a 23-year career with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady announced his retirement on Wednesday (February 1). His net worth is around $250 million.

THE SCAM: Brady and his ex-wife supermodel Gisele Bundchen were caught in a crypto exchange scam in which billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried is accused of cheating investors and looting billions of dollars at his FTX cryptocurrency exchange. Brady and Bundchen closed an equity deal with and FTX.US and invested $650 million in the company. The investment and stake may now be worth much less.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry changed NBA basketball with the accuracy of his three-pointers. Image Credit: AP

Stephen Curry, Basketball, US

Stephen Curry is the point guard for the Golden State Warriors in the National Basketball Association. Four-time NBA champion Curry, widely considered the best shooter of all time, is credited with revolutionising the sport with his penchant for three-point shots. Curry’s net worth is estimated to be around $160 million.

THE SCAM: Curry is another celebrity caught in the FTX scam investment. He took an equity stake in the firm after signing a partnership with FTX last year.

Cristiano Ronaldo turns out for Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr Club. Image Credit: AFP

Cristiano Ronaldo, Football, Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, is one of the finest players of his generation and arguably one of the all-time greats. The Portuguese footballer, who turns out for Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr Club, had had glorious stints with Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus. One of the highest-paid athletes, Ronaldo’s net worth is around $490 million.

THE SCAM: Ronaldo was swindled out of more than $340,000 by a Portuguese travel agent over three years by gaining access to his credit card details and pin codes. Maria Silva confessed in court to having fraudulently booked around 200 trips for clients before pocketing their money and charging Ronaldo’s credit card. The 53-year-old Portuguese woman was given a four-year suspended prison sentence and agreed to pay the money back.

Rahul Dravid was Mr. Dependable during his playing days. Image Credit: AFP

Rahul Dravid, Cricket, India

Indian cricket coach and former India captain Rahul Dravid was a prolific batsman with good technique and formidable powers of concentration. With Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly, Dravid formed the fab four of Indian cricket.

THE SCAM: Dravid filed a complaint with the Enforcement Directorate saying that he had been cheated of 40 million rupees (around $480,000) by the Bengaluru-based wealth management firm Vikram Investments. Badminton stars Prakash Padukone and Saina Nehwal were also reported to have been caught in the Ponzi scheme.

Mike Tyson
Mike Tyson was known for quick knockout wins at the peak of his career. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Mike Tyson, Boxer, US

World heavyweight champion Mike Tyson ruled the boxing ring in the late eighties and raked millions of dollars in prize money. An expensive divorce and trial dented his fortune. Following a prison term and failed comebacks, Tyson’s riches were soon depleted, and he filed for bankruptcy. Without a steady source of income to support his $ 400,000-a-month lifestyle, his debts piled to more than $20 million.

THE SCAM: In 1998, Tyson filed a $100 million lawsuit against boxing promoter Don King, accusing him of defrauding the boxer of tens of millions of dollars since 1988. Tyson later reached a settlement with King, agreeing to drop the suit in exchange for a $14 million payment, which went towards paying off his various creditors.

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney was topscorer for England and Manchester United. Image Credit: AP

Wayne Rooney, Football, UK

The former England international was one of the best players of his generation. Rooney hit the spotlights as a precocious teenager with the English Premier League club Everton before moving to Manchester United. Rooney went on to become the record goalscorer for England and United.

THE SCAM: England footballers Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand lost £25 million (around $30 million) after investing in Kingsbridge Asset Management, a Nottingham-based firm accused of fraud. But police said they did not have enough evidence to prosecute the firm, the Daily Mirror reported.

John McEnroe
John McEnroe was a touch artist on the tennis court. Image Credit: Shutterstock

John McEnroe, Tennis, US

Winner of seven grand slam singles titles, John McEnroe’s abundant talent, silken touch and volatile temper dominated tennis in the late seventies and eighties. His rivalries with Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl were legendary.

THE SCAM: McEnroe lost $2 million after paying for part-ownership of two paintings. The tennis star, Hollywood actor Robert De Niro, Bank of America, investment firms and art owners were duped by Lawrence Salander in a $88 million art investment scam. The scheme, which ran from 1994 to 2007, lured investors to pay for shares of ownership of artworks.

Dennis Rodman
Rebound king Dennis Rodman was one of the highly paid players in the NBA. Image Credit: AP

Dennis Rodman, Basketball, US

Five-time NBA champion is renowned for his rebounding skills. Nicknamed “The Worm”, he is a colourful personality with a heavily tattoed body and was an integral part of the Chicago Bulls, which won three championships from 1996-1998. He played for the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, and Dallas Mavericks. At the peak of his career, Rodman was worth around $27 million, but his net worth now is $500,000.

THE SCAM: Rodman and three other professional athletes were scammed out of millions by Peggy Ann Fulford, who posed as a financial advisor and stole at least $3.5 million. Fulford, who pleaded guilty, was ordered to pay Rodman $1,243,579,

Kareem Abdul Jabbar owns several NBA records and his skyhook shot (above) is legendary. Image Credit: AP

Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Basketball, US

Kareem Abdul Jabbar played for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers in an NBA career from 1969-89, winning six titles. The 7-foot-2-inch legend, who some consider the greatest basketballer in history, won multiple awards and has a net worth of about $25 million.

THE SCAM: A Sports Illustrated report said Abdul Jabbar lost his multi-million-dollar Bel Air mansion in a fire. His funds were further depleted by a messy divorce and bad investments. When an independent audit found that Abdul Jabbar was liable for $9 million in debts, he filed a lawsuit for about $59 million against his business manager Tom Collins.

Tim Duncan is an NBA power forward with high basketball IQ. Image Credit: AP

Tim Duncan, Basketball, US

Tim Duncan is widely regarded as the greatest power forward in NBA history. A five-time NBA champion, Duncan turned out for San Antonio Spurs for 19 years from 1997. The seven-footer’s high basketball IQ earned the nickname “The Big Fundamental”. His career earnings are estimated to be around $242 million.

THE SCAM: Duncan got duped by Atlanta-area businessman Charles Banks, who, according to Bloomberg, withheld huge sums of Duncan’s money on their deals and pocketed some $20 million of the athlete’s cash. In 2017, Banks was ordered to pay Duncan $7.5 million by a federal judge, a Reuters report said.