NEW YORK CITY: Feds File Charges In $81M Ponzi Scheme Involving Resale Of Tickets To Hamilton

Via press release from the SEC:

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced fraud charges against two New York City men accused of running a Ponzi scheme with money raised from investors to fund businesses purportedly created to purchase and resell tickets to such high-demand shows as Adele concerts and the Broadway musical Hamilton.

The SEC alleges that Joseph Meli and Matthew Harriton misrepresented to investors that all of their money would be pooled to buy large blocks of tickets that would be resold at a profit to produce high returns for investors. The bulk of investor funds were allegedly used for other undisclosed purposes, namely making Ponzi payments to prior investors using money from new investors. Meli and Harriton allegedly diverted almost $2 million for such personal expenses as jewelry purchases, private school and camp tuition, and casino payments.

According to the SEC’s complaint, the scheme went so far as to misrepresent that an agreement was in place with the producer of Hamilton to purchase 35,000 tickets to the musical. Investor money was supposedly paying part of that cost with the return on investment promised within eight months. The SEC alleges no such agreement or purchase ever happened. Meli and Harriton allegedly raised more than $81 million from at least 125 investors in 13 states.

β€œAs alleged in our complaint, Meli and Harriton raised millions from investors by promising big profits from reselling tickets to A-list events when in reality they were moving investor money in a circle and creating a mirage of profitability,” said Paul G. Levenson, Director of the SEC’s Boston Regional Office.

The US Attorney’s Office is filing separate criminal charges against Meli.

  • Lars Littlefield

    Hmmmm . . Meli and Hariton sound like mormon businessmen.

    OFF TOPIC: Any elder JMG gays here remember the name of a little gay bar in Huntington Beach (I think it was Huntington) that was perched above the beach and had a glass top bar with gold fish swimming around under everyone’s drinks? I’m asking for a friend. πŸ˜€

    • Mark

      The boom boom room….down in laguna. Long gone. got sold by the landlord. And it was a very fun place ! I’ve got memories….that will never be shared in public!

      I was never clear if this was about the boom boom or not…..
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXMrDu7374Y

      • MT YVR

        Bribes? Threats? Alcoholic beverages? What works for you? πŸ˜›

      • Lars Littlefield

        I have similar memories. But it took some googling for me to remember that those memories took place in Laguna! LOL! Yes, it was closed in 2013.

        ASIDE: Not only do I have salacious memories of the place, I also have old Polaroids. πŸ™‚

        • Mark

          The only other ‘beach’ bar i recall in the area was in Long Beach….but I don’t remember the name, nor know if it is still there.

          • Lars Littlefield

            Was the Long Beach bar near the entrance to the pier by any chance. Sailor/Navy themed? Best cheap drinks int he city? But not as cool as Joe Josts used to be in the 80s? (These days Joe Josts is overrun with homophobic hipsters.)

        • BJORN RAGNVALDR

          You know you can scan those and be able to post them, right?

          • Lars Littlefield

            Funny you should mention that. A couple of years ago I found nude photos of me taken in my 20s by an old boyfriend on a porn site. It’s a damn good thing they were taken when I was feeling my oats. I was both flattered and embarrassed, but mostly mortified. And they are still floating around on some sites. So much for making my mark in the world.

      • BJORN RAGNVALDR

        That brought back a memory of a night at the Hyatt Cap Square in Columbus years ago….he was thirsty!

    • BJORN RAGNVALDR

      I’ve never been to Huntington Beach and there is no evidence to place me there.

      That being said, would it be The South Seas at The Coast Inn later to be named The Boom Boom Room at one point owned by Fred Karger?

      • Lars Littlefield

        I believe you just may be today’s “Places in Gay History” winner!

        Thank you. πŸ™‚

        • BJORN RAGNVALDR

          More like “Pieces in Gay History”…};-)~

          • Lars Littlefield

            And I’ve discovered my memory thinks Huntington Beach is the same as Laguna! Boy, this getting old shit is rough. LOL!

          • Mark

            Huntington has Monster Burger.
            Just make sure you have a speedy car to take you right away to the ER…..

    • Jeffrey

      Boom Boom in Laguna. Lots of memories there. Haven’t been in ten years or so. Used to stay at the attached hotel. Terraces on the beach. All gone now, I think. One morning I woke up there naked on the couch with my hotel door wide open and my phone and my dignity missing.

      • Lars Littlefield

        That’s a good memory to have. I’m envious.

    • Kenster999

      Yep, the Boom Boom Room. I started going there before fully realizing and accepting I was gay. Guys used to ask me all the time, “Are you a cop?” but I never quite understood why! And my first gay experience was with a hot bouncer from there… ah, good times!

  • BJORN RAGNVALDR

    They’ll be the first two recipients of The Presidential Medal of Freedom during Cheetolini’s regime, this is now to be heralded as smart business.

    • Lars Littlefield

      Most likely they’ll win the Bernie Madoff award of excellence for business acumen and achievement.

  • bkmn

    Let me guess…friends of Mr. Shkreli?

  • JoeMyGod

    After two years I’m finally seeing Hamilton next weekend. Tickets legally procured.

    • Silver Badger

      Have fun.

    • Congrats.

    • BJORN RAGNVALDR
      • MT YVR

        Ah, the woman who has channelled my spirit animal more often than is seemly.

        • BJORN RAGNVALDR

          Seemly is not a virtue I posses….

          • MT YVR

            Oh, I meant seemly for HER. I’m not even sure what the hell I did with the seemly I was born with. I’m sure I kept it somewhere as a quaint Tchotchke of pointless things. Like appendixes. And shame.

          • Jacquelynjburch

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            On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
            !mj182d:
            ➽➽
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    • Lars Littlefield

      Sounds like a good excuse to buy fancy new “Out in Public” attire.

    • scorpiomike

      I have been obsessed with the soundtrack for months. A few of my friends were able to get tickets and they were so excited they cried through half the show.

    • Anastasia Beaverhousen

      I am seeing it after 9 months – at regularly secured and priced tickets, on March 29th! I feel like i have been pregnant, but with booze.

    • bobbyjoe

      You’ll love it! Have fun.

    • gothambear

      I hope you enjoy – it’s one show that lives up the hype. Saw the original cast and would love to see the new openly gay lead.

  • Silver Badger

    But…Don’t the trump boys have that franchise?

    • OdieDenCO

      not yet, hence the fed raid.

  • Dumdum#pay4thewall

    Sounds like the business model for Trump Industries. Take the goods or services and don’t pay anyone. Isn’t America great? You treat people like shit and they make you president.

  • Stev84

    Today in Republican hypocrisy:
    http://www.ajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/georgia-lawmaker-recovering-after-shooting-police-investigation-continues/KynjoRhYUguuDTqgjrhcUK/

    Republican is shot in the leg in the parking lot of an adult cinema with thousands in cash on him. Claims it was money he collected for storm victims and that he really wanted to visit a liquor store nearby (which isn’t actually adjacent as he claimed). Sure…

  • Mark

    Personally – I love hearing about investors getting duped with the promise of super high returns. It simply proves there is not a valid connection between wealth and brains… (see: Trump, Donald)

  • Gustav2

    …because there wasn’t enough money in ‘honestly’ scalping the tickets?

    • Lars Littlefield

      (snort!) πŸ˜‰

  • bobbyjoe

    As someone who goes to a good number of Broadway shows, it’s clear that there’s a huge difference between shows that sell their tickets on Ticketmaster and shows that sell their tickets on venues like Telecharge (which is still what a lot of the main Broadway shows use).

    When a show starts selling tickets, I always dread it when I go on to their site and find out they’re using Ticketmaster. With Telecharge, I usually get tickets at a price in line with usual Broadway prices, and am able to get seats consistent with normal audience buying patterns (i.e., if I’m flexible about dates I can usually get decent seats even to high-demand shows without going broke). But three things you can pretty much guarantee on Ticketmaster: 1) the prices are going to be outrageous; 2) a lot of the good seats to all performances appear to be almost immediately “sold,” even though it might seem odd to usual audience buying habits; and 3) many of the tickets to the best sections are now already mysteriously being sold on second-hand ticket sellers at a ridiculously huge markup.

    I’ve looked at quite a number of shows served by Ticketmaster where large swaths of the front section are now being sold on second-hand sellers at insanely inflated prices. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to know that individual buyers didn’t buy those seats two-by-two and then decide to sell them en masse. I’m convinced Ticketmaster is still either taking a “wink wink” approach to mass scalpers or, worse, they’re actually involved with this. Ticketmaster has needed to be majorly investigated for years.

    • Tim Robblee

      Don’t blame Ticketmaster. The scalpers use bots that buy up the tickets in nanoseconds. The NY attorney general is trying to fight scalping, but the legislature refuses to go along. There is a solution – paperless ticketing – but that means you can’t buy tickets as a gift, or give to a friend if you’re sick, so there’s opposition.

      • When I worked in box offices we held back some seats to sell to ticket brokers. They slipped us some cash and that money was divvied up among the staff. I don’t know if that still goes on but it did at the time. I’m sure there’s a lot more too all of this than just reselling of tickets bought on Ticketmaster. There certainly was back in my day.

        • FloBear

          It was called ice, and it is a thing of the past.

          • Yeah. We called it icing. That needed to go. I worked in a small nonprofit artsy theater so we didn’t get that much. I think we bought a cd player/radio with all the ice we got over a few months. We were almost never sold out so whoever was buying those tickets through a broker was getting seriously ripped off most of the time. Even so, it wasn’t right. That money should have gone to the organizations that had rented the theater. I’m glad that isn’t still going on. So much of what happened around me in NYC was corrupt at every level. I remember having to get cash to slip to building maintenance when I was an office manager and how hard that was to explain to the home office. No, it can’t be a gift card and no you can’t write down anywhere that we slipped a few hundies to those guys. Oy.

      • gothambear

        Now you see nefarious types standing in line at the box offices in Shubert Alley every day buying up bunches of tickets to hot Broadway shows. They started limiting the per purchase ticket allocation but they come back day after day and there is no legal way to stop them. They pay cash.

    • BlindBill

      I know a guy that was working IT for ticketmaster up until the end of last year – yeah – they are “no officially” in on it (wink, wink)

  • imma be a small venue person for the rest of my life, i’m pretty sure. i was there when some shows became literally out of reach for a young music lover. same with sports. i’ve seen charts on it, none handy but i’m pretty sure i’m right.

    nobody can afford a night out for top-billed music or entertainment who isn’t at least a little bit flush. the ticket vulture resalers wouldn’t have a job if not for how out of control prices have become.

  • DumbHairyApe

    Greed.

  • SDG

    Greed….