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.
“As 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.