Former Philadelphia Eagles player Merrill Robertson Jr. may not be playing football, but he’s being accused of playing investors in a Ponzi scheme.
Fortune reported on Thursday (Aug. 11) that Robertson, along with business partner Sherman C. Vaughn Jr., are suspected of tricking clients into investing into a nonexistent business that made “energized water.”
In a complaint filed by the SEC, the duo is said to have raised more than $10 million from over 60 investors for the bogus endeavor, called Cavalier Union Investments. According to the document, more than $6 million of that money was used by Robertson and Vaughn to pay for personal expenses, while the remaining $4 million was used to pay back initial investors.
The two were arrested and charged with defrauding investors this week.
According to the SEC complaint, the men made bold claims of investors earning returns of as much as 10–20 percent in order to convince them to invest. They even setup a website for Cavalier Union Investments that boasted the company was fully staffed with investment advisors and funds, as well as that it owned restaurants, real estate and other assets.
Earlier this year, even investors in Silicon Valley were bamboozled out of $10 million through a ruse that was based on promises of buying pre-IPO shares in companies, including marquee names, such as Airbnb and Uber. Of the $10 million bilked, less than 1 percent was spent on shares, and none of those shares belonged to the aforementioned tech juggernauts.
The scheme extended across more than 200 investors, according to the SEC. The regulatory agency also stated that it sought an emergency injunction against the two defendants, Jaswant S. Gill and Javier Rios, as their actions seemed to continue. In the complaint, the SEC stated that Gill’s age is unknown due to multiple birth dates and Social Security numbers. Gill, said the agency, took $1 million from his victims in cash, and Rios took another $1.7 million. Together, they spent another half a million dollars on excursions and took $4.2 million to keep the Ponzi scheme afloat. In addition, Gill listed professional achievements that were falsified, said the SEC.