Brazilian midfielder Gustavo Scarpa
Sao Paulo (AFP) - Three Brazilian footballers, including Nottingham Forest midfielder Gustavo Scarpa, say they have fallen victim to a multi-million-dollar cryptocurrency scam, according to local media reports.
Scarpa, his former teammate Mayke at Sao Paulo club Palmeiras, and Willian Bigode of Rio de Janeiro club Fluminense all claim to have lost huge sums to a crypto firm called Xland, which promised investors returns of up to five percent a month on their money, according to the reports.
“I’ve always seen stupid people fall victim to pyramid schemes and scams. Finding myself in a situation like that is horrible,” Scarpa, 29, said in a WhatsApp audio message aired Sunday by Brazil’s biggest broadcaster, TV Globo.
Scarpa, who was named Brazilian league player of the year in 2022, and 30-year-old defender Mayke filed complaints with police in November, shortly after winning the league title with Palmeiras.
Scarpa says he invested 6.3 million reais ($1.2 million) in Xland. Mayke says he invested around four million reais ($762,000).
Both say they were persuaded to invest in the company by Willian Bigode, a former Palmeiras teammate.
But Bigode, 36, says he is also a victim.
“I’m not a scammer, I didn’t take anyone’s money. I’m a victim, too, because I haven’t gotten my own money back to this day,” he said on Instagram.
He put his losses at 17.5 million reais.
Lead investigator Vinicius Salva told TV Globo there was “strong evidence” of a scam.
But Brasilia-based Xland denied running a pyramid scheme and said it would pay back its clients.
It said it had suffered huge losses from the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which declared bankruptcy in November.