Poker’s Ali Fazeli Pleads Guilty in $6.2m Sports Ticket Scam

ali-fazeli-pokerPoker pro Seyad Reza Ali Fazeli has pleaded guilty to wire fraud stemming from a sports ticket scam that earned him $6.2 million.

Fazeli set up a fake ticket reselling business and recruited wealthy investors.

The Californian lied and said that the money was being used to buy and resell tickets to sporting events like the 2017 Super Bowl and 2018 World Cup. Rather than using the money for anything business-related, Fazeli blew the funds at Las Vegas casinos.

FBI Reports that Fazeli Never Bought Any Tickets

Many eventual scams start out with some form of legitimacy, only to go full-blown when the perpetrator can’t afford to pay off debts. But this isn’t the case with Fazeli, because an FBI investigation reveals that he never bought any sporting tickets.

The Orange County resident was arrested on February 14 of this year and indicted in March. He was facing a maximum of 20 years in prison, but he’ll likely serve much less time following the guilty plea.

Sentencing is set for January 28, 2019. The judge has already ordered Fazeli to pay full restitution to the victims.

Fazeli Tricked Prominent Investors and Poker Pros

Ali Fazeli started a fake ticket reselling business called Summit Entertainment, which included an online website called OnlineTickets.com. He convinced investors to buy into the business, including Mel Sembler, a Florida real estate developer who sunk $5 million into Summit Entertainment.

Sembler eventually asked for his profits from the investment. But Fazeli convinced him to let the profits ride until the next payment round. When this money failed to come through, Sembler filed a lawsuit against Fazeli in July 2017.

Poker pros Erik Seidel and Zachary Clark are also believed to have invested as much as $500,000 into Summit Entertainment, while John Juanda contributed $300,000. These poker pros all filed lawsuits against Fazeli at Nevada’s Clark County District Court.

Court Records Detail Fazeli’s Deception

Court records show that Fazeli received investments via bank wire, hence the wire fraud charges. He then proceeded to spend the money on his own wants, rather than putting the funds towards buying tickets. Here’s more from court documents:

“Fazeli failed to provide any profit distribution. Fazeli falsely told the victims that the ticket sales went poorly because the NFL prohibited their resale and that he was negotiating a settlement with the NFL.. Fazeli never purchased large numbers of Super Bowl or World Cup tickets as promised. Instead, he used the money for gambling expenses at Las Vegas Casinos and for personal expenses.”

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