Poker Pro Ali Fazeli Gets 18 Months for Running Million Dollar Super Bowl Ticket Scam
Posted on: January 25, 2019, 09:02h.
Last updated on: January 25, 2019, 09:02h.
A California poker pro who swindled investors out of millions in a ticket-selling scheme has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.
Last year, Seyed Reza Ali Fazeli pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, a charge that carries a maximum of 20 years in jail. In addition, he could have been fined as much as double the amount that he took from investors. Given that he defrauded victims out of $6.2 million, a total fine of up to $13.4 million was a possibility; instead, he was ordered to pay back $7.5 million to the jilted investors.
In a statement to the judge in his plea agreement, Fazeli said he was “sick to my stomach to think how much I’ve violated the law and disgraced my family,” adding that he was “sick with shame” for leaving his wife to care for their disabled daughter.
Summit to the Slammer
Prosecutors indicate Fazeli was the man behind Summit Entertainment, a ticket-selling business based in Las Vegas which also ran the websites onlinetickets.com, and pacertickets.com.
He raised a total of $6.2 million, money which he promised investors would be used to buy tickets for the 2017 Super Bowl and the 2018 World Cup. Those tickets, he claimed, would be resold at a significant gain.
But Fazeli never even bought the tickets.
“A large portion of investor funds were used for the personal benefit of Fazeli, including millions spent at Las Vegas Casinos,” wrote FBI Special Agent BC Mason in a court affidavit.
That included taking part in high-stakes poker tournaments. He was a regular at the Aria poker room in 2016, where he’s believed to have played in at least 10 tournaments with buy ins of $25,000 each. Victims of his scam included well-known poker pros John Juanda and Erik Seidel.
Those two men have filed civil action against Fazeli, as has the Aria Casino over outstanding credit markers. The results of those suits are unknown at this time.
The Ubiquitous Ticket Scam
Fazeli’s brand of deceit is not uncommon – it seems that ticket selling scams are a popular option for those looking to quickly bank a few million bucks.
The most high-profile case in recent years involved Craig Carton, a former New York sports radio host who once shared the airwaves with ex-NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason.
Like Fazeli, Carton assured investors that he would use their money to buy tickets to in-demand live events, and like Fazeli he spent it instead – some $5.6 million – on a high-stakes gambling lifestyle instead.
Carton was found guilty in November and faces up to 45 years in prison in a sentencing hearing set for February 27.
Britain’s David Putman allegedly went a different route with his ticket scam. The 53-year old was arrested and charged with fraud in September, suspected of using a fake lottery ticket to claim a $3.27 million prize.
His trial started in late November.
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