Matthew Peterson, Architect of $6M Sports Betting Fraud, Gets Eight Years, No Parole

Posted on: March 11, 2021, 12:53h. 

Last updated on: March 11, 2021, 02:56h.

Matthew Peterson, 51, the mastermind behind a $6 million sports wagering scheme, was sentenced to eight years and one month in federal prison without possibility of parole.

Peterson scheme
The federal courthouse for the Western District of Missouri. Matthew Peterson was sentenced there for running a sports betting fraud. (Image:

In levying that punishment on Wednesday, US District Judge Howard Sachs also ordered Peterson, of Kansas City, Mo. to pay $2.51 million in restitution to the victims. The defendant pled guilty last September to a single count of bank fraud and one count of money laundering.

Peterson lied to prospective investors about being an expert in sports betting in order to carry out his investment fraud scheme,” according to a statement issued by the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri.

“Peterson created fictitious spreadsheets, financial statements, and betting reports that indicated the investments were yielding large returns,” the statement continued.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) asserts that rather than conducting a legitimate sports betting investment vehicle, Peterson operated the quintessential Ponzi scheme — using capital from new investors to pay early stakeholders.

“Peterson used about $3.3 million of the approximately $6 million obtained from investors to make Ponzi-type payments to existing investors,” said the US Attorney’s Office.

Peterson’s Vacations, Gambling, Spending Spree

Although DOJ doesn’t mention this, Peterson may have been able to prey upon aspiring sports gamblers in Missouri because the state currently doesn’t have regulated sports wagering. Legislators are expected to take up the matter this year.

Of the seven states, Missouri shares a border with, just three — Arkansas, Illinois, and Iowa — permit sports betting. In Arkansas, there is no mobile wagering. Those factors could have provided an opening for Peterson to bilk clients.

What isn’t up for debate is that the perpetrator of the scheme used a hefty percentage of the $6 million he pilfered to fund his lavish lifestyle, including his own gambling habit.

“Peterson spent approximately $565,000 of investor funds on luxury vacations for himself and his family, personal gambling, retail, automobiles, credit card payments, a house, and made cash withdrawals of more than $90,000 of investor money,” according to the US Attorney’s statement.

Peterson stole anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 from clients. In one example, an aggrieved customer liquidated a retirement account, gave the proceeds to Peterson, only to have the criminal turn around and use the customer’s personal data to procure an American Express card. Peterson charged almost $249,000 on the card without the unidentified party’s knowledge.

“Due to his scheme, financial institutions and credit card companies also incurred a loss of approximately $461,000,” said DOJ.

Not the Only Scheme

Showing his moral compass in dire need of adjustment, Peterson duped his church out of $16,000.

He used his business, AIS Travel, to supposedly book $18,000 worth of airline tickets and room reservations for a 20-person staff retreat to Cancun, Mexico in 2016. The church advanced Peterson $16,000.

When the church group got to the airport, they discovered no reservations were made by Peterson, nor were any tickets purchased.