Friday, Joseph Meli, 42, of Manhattan, and Steven Simmons, 48, of Wilton, Connecticut, were charged for conning wealthy individuals in an elaborate Ponzi scheme involving ticket business investments.
The two men allegedly influenced millionaires to make multi-million-dollar investments in ticket businesses for popular venues of attraction, such as an Adele concert or Broadway’s theatrical musical, “Hamilton.”
In total, people from thirteen different states invested nearly $81 million in the scheme.
According to a complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the purported scheme involved high-priced investments into businesses that would scalp large blocks of tickets for upcoming concerts and musicals.
The SEC states at least $51 million of the $81 million was redirected “to pay off other investors or for personal expenses of co-conspirators.”
“Meli allegedly made up out of whole cloth purported deals to buy Broadway tickets that he could later sell at a profit,” said Deputy U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim about the Ponzi schemers. “But, as alleged, Meli was just robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
In the civil complaint, Meli was charged as the lead conspirator, while Simmons was spared. However, both men were criminally charged with conspiracy, securities fraud, and wire fraud. The criminal complaint states the fraudulent scheme happened from November 2015 through January 2017. Meli and Simmons were each released on $1 million bails by Judge James C. Francis IV.
“When fraudsters think they’re going to get away with scheming investors out of money, they tend to forget that at some point the money will run out. It’s the way a Ponzi scheme ends,” said William F. Sweeney Jr., head of the FBI’s New York office.
H/T: Fox News
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