Manchester United-supporting Mongolian teenager scammed by agent is subject of charity appeal
Manchester United fan Ochiroo Batbold was approached on Facebook by a man claiming to have links with West Ham United and Los Angeles Galaxy. The fraudster claimed to have watched videos of him playing for amateur side Bayangol and told him he could secure him a trial in the USA.
The 17-year-old was told to pay a sum of $6,000, which represents over a year’s salary for his parents, to secure his place with the MLS side, only discovering that he had been scammed after showing a member of club staff the fake contract he had been sent. He was also asked to provide further money to insure himself against injuries on his ‘trial’.
Ochiroo shares a one-room yurt with three other family members in Ulan Bator and his parents had taken out a loan for what they believed would be their son’s big break. They now face the prospect of losing their home if the appeal does not reach its £3,800 target.
Paul Watson, the English co-owner who set up Bayangol in 2013, told Standard Sport: “We’re hoping that fundraising may give Ochiroo a second chance.
“Right now he’s very depressed and the family are desperate, the guilt is eating Ochiroo up and he’s even considering quitting football. As a club we are doing everything we can to help but we are relying on the good nature of genuine football lovers to help.”
Watson, who has also coached the Federated States of Micronesia football team, was left hugely disappointed at the plight of Ochiroo. He described the youngster as the sort of player that he had founded the club for.
“We were told that there was a 17-year-old called Ochiroo who would routinely train on his own at 6am on -20 degree winter mornings in Ulan Bator. His school gave him the keys so he could open up the school gym and boot a ball against the wall.
“We paid him a visit and were bowled over by his passion and potential. His idol is Wayne Rooney and he always wears a Man United shirt and watches every United game with the Mongolian Man United fan club at a pub in Ulan Bator.
“Ochiroo joined our team and for two years has been the most dedicated player you can imagine. He’s always the first to turn up to training and the last to leave, plus he’s always smiling on the field. Everyone in the squad loves him. He played a crucial part as Bayangol won the Mongolian Amateur Championship this year.”
In 2013 the FA warned young players of the risk posed by fake agents, encouraging any aspiring footballers to confirm the details of anyone contacting them on Fifa.com. The individual alleged to have scammed Ochiroo had pages on Facebook and footballscout.com.
Police in the USA and Mongolia are currently investigating the crime but Watson and the family do not expect to get their money back even if the fraudster is caught.