Shohei Ohtani Falls Victim to Celebrity Scam Epidemic

Trusted Interpreter Betrays MLB Star in Financial Scandal

by Nouman Rasool
Shohei Ohtani Falls Victim to Celebrity Scam Epidemic
© Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

In a disturbing revelation, Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Dodgers' celebrated star, has become the latest high-profile athlete to fall victim to financial fraud, a plight that has ensnared numerous celebrities and sports figures over the decades.

The alleged perpetrator, Ippei Mizuhara, who served not only as Ohtani's interpreter but also took on managerial duties, is accused of pilfering at least $16 million from the baseball phenom. This incident echoes a distressing pattern documented in a 2021 EY report, which noted nearly $600 million lost by athletes to fraud from 2004 to 2019.

"Athletes are uniquely vulnerable due to their high earnings at a young age and a focus on their demanding careers, which necessitates a deep trust in their financial handlers," explained Chase Carlson, a Florida attorney known for representing victims of investment scams.

Deceptive Financial Maneuvers

Mizuhara's close relationship with Ohtani, characterized by handling personal and business affairs beyond mere translation, allegedly enabled him to misappropriate funds to settle personal gambling debts.

According to federal authorities, Mizuhara manipulated bank operations by impersonating Ohtani, deceiving bank staff into executing unauthorized wire transfers. The list of deceived celebrities is long and illustrious, ranging from Billy Joel and Alanis Morissette to athletes like Dennis Rodman and Mark Sanchez.

Historical cases such as Joel’s $90 million lawsuit against his former manager and Morissette’s manager embezzling millions exemplify the depths of such betrayals. The betrayal often originates from within an athlete's inner circle, typically family or close associates, who exploit their position to bypass security measures.

Anthony Smalls of MGO notes that these trusted individuals often circumvent the systems designed to safeguard the athletes' wealth. Financial literacy is pinpointed as a critical defense against such exploitation. "Athletes must understand financial fundamentals to make informed decisions and recognize the consequences of those decisions," stated Athena Constantinou from the Sports Financial Literacy Academy.

Shohei Ohtani