I am an alum of the University of Virginia. As such, I was quite excited to see how my school’s men’s basketball team would fare in the NCAA tournament after completing such a dominant regular season (even if one of our best players was injured). Prior to the tournament, I purchased tickets for the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games in Atlanta, fearing they could increase in price, as the top seeds in the region all had strong fan bases in the area. At $311 a pop after fees, they weren’t cheap, but I was excited. My team historically failed in the first round, but on the bright side, I was able to resell my tickets at a slight profit (and prices have plummeted since). Now, I wasn’t trying to profit – I really wanted to watch my team march toward a championship – but I am relieved that I wasn’t one of the people who tried to profit from ticket resales by giving professional poker player Seyed Reza Ali Fazeli money in the last couple years.
Last Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California announced that Fazeli has been indicted on wire fraud charges for bilking ticket “investors” out of $6.2 million. Fazeli operated a ticket selling business called Summit Entertainment and from May 2016 through May 2017, allegedly promised people that he would use their money to buy tickets to the 2017 Super Bowl and 2018 World Cup, tickets which he would flip for a profit, making investors money in the process.
According to the indictment, Fazeli never handed out profits to any of his investors, telling them that he was unable to resell the Super Bowl tickets because the NFL prohibited such an activity. He claimed he was working on a settlement with the league.
The thing was, Fazeli never even bought any Super Bowl or World Cup tickets, according to the indictment. Instead, he used the money largely to pay for buy-ins into poker tournaments at the Bellagio and Aria. Sure enough, if you look at his live tournament results on TheHendonMob.com, Fazeli cashed exclusively in the frequent $25,000 buy-in tournaments at Aria in 2016.
It would be interesting to know why he has no more results after 2016 aside from a couple $200+ buy-in cashes last summer (he has two listings on TheHendonMob.com, one under Ali Fazeli and one under Seyed Fazeli). As the site only lists cashes, it is possible he went on a cold streak in 2017 and ran through is investors’ funds, which would also explain why he made no effort to pay anything back. One would think that if he had any smarts (and perhaps he doesn’t), he would have tried to pay some of the money back, using the same story that he wasn’t able to resell the tickets, at least not for a profit. Seeing as he didn’t, it stands to reason that he may have completely run out of money (or he’s just THAT greedy).
Fazeli was arrested five weeks ago by the FBI and released on $120,000 bond. He is scheduled for an arraignment next Monday. He faces up to 40 years in prison if he is convicted of the charges.