Federal prosecutors stated that a poker player from California faces charges that he duped investors out of more than $6 million in a Super Bowl and World Cup ticket-flipping scam.
On March 15, Thursday, Seyed Reza Ali Fazeli, age 49, a poker player resident of Orange County, California, had been indicted at the U.S. Attorney's Office on two felony counts of wire fraud, which can potentially send him to jail for up to 40 years.
From May 2016-May 2017, Fazeli managed to raise a total of $6.2 million from investors in order to purchase Super Bowl and World Cup tickets at face value and then resell them to make a substantial profit. The money was wired to a business company owned by the poker pro, named Summit Entertainment, a ticket brokerage in Las Vegas.
The indictment states that the investors did not receive a profit and it turns out Fazeli never even bought the tickets in the first place. Instead, he used the money on personal expenses and to pay off gambling debts.
In an affidavit filed with the court, FBI Special Agent BC Mason wrote, "A large portion of investor funds were used for the personal benefit of Fazeli, including millions spent at Las Vegas casinos."
Fazeli purportedly went on a gambling spree at the Aria and Bellagio, two high-end Las Vegas Strip-based casinos, and he also paid off some gambling debts on the side.
After a lengthy FBI investigation, on February 14 Fazeli was arrested but then released the next day on a $120,000 bond. He was indicted on March 15 and he was scheduled to be formally arraigned on March 26.
Fazeli's business company also operated under the name OnlineTickets.com and PacerTickets.com. Now these websites are no longer active, but prior to the arrest the sites were still actively reselling tickets (upon conducting a search with the use of the Wayback Machine, an Internet archive tool).
It is predictable that if you borrow or receive money from investors for a specific purpose, but use it for personal gain instead and the investors end up making no money at all, then they will definitely go ahead and sue you.
Aside from his pending criminal charges that could put him in jail for 40 years (which is a very very long time for humans), Fazeli is also facing numerous civil lawsuits related to his alleged ticket scam operation.
In 2015, famous Republican donors Mel Sembler and his family, gave the poker player $5 million to buy and sell sporting event tickets for profit, which included a block of tickets to the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four. Sembler said Fazeli informed him the Final Four sales went very well and convinced the GOP donor to use it further on 2017 Super Bowl tickets to make an even bigger profit. The unsuspecting 87-year-old Florida real estate developer agreed. Furthermore, Fazeli convinced again his Sembler investors the sales were getting great results and convinced them to invest one more time, and this time on the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
However, due to the Semblers never receiving any payment not even once from the investment, in July 2017, the family's attorney filed a lawsuit against Fazeli.
Another lawsuit filed in Nevada by ‘Ticket Man' says that in 2016, they paid over $2.5 million for Super Bowl tickets after they were promised to gain $3 million in profits. The business received not even one cent back from the deal, and that "repeated phone calls and emails to Fazeli and Summit were not returned."
If ever Fazeli is convicted in a criminal court, the $5 million lawsuit from the Semblers may most likely be the least of his worries.