A Miami Booster Who Was Once the Face of NIL Is Under Criminal Investigation
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Famed Miami NIL booster John Ruiz and his company LifeWallet are facing criminal and civil investigations amid a precipitous downfall rife with fraud allegations and billions of dollars lost on paper.
The news that Ruiz is the target of investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida was first reported by the Miami Herald.
Ruiz had been the most notable booster during the NIL era, handing out lavish endorsement deals to more than 100 college athletes, the vast majority of whom played for the University of Miami.
He awarded a total of $5 million in NIL deals, including four players who helped the Hurricanes to a Final Four appearance and to twin influencers Haley and Hanna Cavinder. One of the men's basketball players, Nijel Pack, transferred to Miami in large part due to Ruiz's NIL agreement.
But behind the scenes, his company was failing.
At its height, Ruiz’s company was worth up to $33 billion on paper, the second-largest SPAC of all-time while trading at roughly $10 per share. Now? It's at $0.22, down about 98% and on the verge of being kicked out of the Nasdaq.
Along the way, the company has faced litigation from a former business partner that accused fraud, said its financials from 2022 were completely unreliable, missed several earnings deadlines and has a line of creditors knocking on the door to collect.
Attempts to reach LifeWallet through its listed communication contacts were unsuccessful.
Much of the company's initial, sky-high valuation was based on what Ruiz and the company told investors were proprietary algorithms that allowed them to find the right healthcare cases, litigate them and make money. Ruiz claimed the company could recover up to $89 billion by doing this.
LifeWallet brought in only $23.4 million in revenue in 2022. The company's total operating loss was $402 million. And even those figures may be unreliable, the company said in a filing to the SEC in April.