The SEC on Friday announced that it was charging two New York City men on running an $81 million Ponzi scheme that deceived investors into buying blocks of tickets to high-demand shows including Adele concerts and the smash Broadway hit “Hamilton.”
The two men, Joseph Meli and Matthew Harriton, allegedly raised about $81 million from at least 125 investors in 13 states.
The SEC’s complaint in the civil fraud charge alleges that Mali and Harrison told investors that they had a deal with a “Hamtilon” producer for 35,000 tickets, though no such agreement ever existed.
While Mali and Harriton purportedly told investors that the money would go to finance the buying and reselling of tickets to popular events, the SEC claims that funds went to personal expenses including jewelry, private school tuition, camp tuition, and gambling.
“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,” Paul G. Levenson, the director of the SEC’s Boston Regional Office, said in a press release.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is also pursuing criminal charges against Meli.
According to Reuters, court papers quote Meli as having told an alleged fellow schemer in a phone call, “It would be impossible for anyone on planet earth unless you told them… to know what we did.”