California poker pro Seyed Reza Ali Fazeli pleaded guilty to a charge of federal wire fraud for stealing $6.2 million from “investors” in a ticket resale scheme. The 49-year old Fazeli was originally indicted in March on two counts of wire fraud.
Fazeli created a ticket selling company called Summit Entertainment and from May 2016 to May 2017, he accepted money from investors, promising to buy tickets for the 2017 Super Bowl and the recently completed 2018 World Cup and then resell them at a profit. Naturally, the idea was for the investors to see a return on their money.
Fazeli told the investors that he was unable to resell the Super Bowl tickets because the NFL would not allow such resales and that he was working on some sort of settlement with the league. He never bought any tickets, though, instead using the millions for personal expenses and to buy-in to poker tournaments.
If you look at Fazeli’s tournament results on his Hendon Mob page, you will see that he had numerous six-figure scores in tournaments in 2016, with almost all of his cashes coming in high roller events at the Aria. He has no recorded cashes since the end of 2016. It is entirely possible that he used the investors’ money to buy-in to tournaments and planned to share some of the proceeds (basically a staking arrangement without the knowledge of the stakers), but then went on a cold streak and the well ran dry.
It is also possible – perhaps probable – that he never intended to pay anyone back and just had the “I couldn’t sell any tickets” excuse all ready to go, assuming people would just chalk their loss up to a typical failed investment.
Personally, while Fazeli is clearly a scumbag, I don’t feel particularly sorry his investors. They were trying to profit off of a ticket-scalping scheme. Tough shit. Sorry you couldn’t take advantage of fans who weren’t able to jump on tickets the moment they went on sale and were required to resort to paying a huge premium over face value. Sorry you couldn’t gouge fans of the Atlanta Falcons, who were hoping they could witness their team win the first Super Bowl in its history.
Frankly, I’m shocked – SHOCKED – that someone promising a return on investment for a morally dubious scheme would turn out to be untrustworthy.
According to CardPlayer this spring, pro poker players Erik Seidel, John Juanda, and Zachary Clark were three of Fazeli’s investors, giving him a total of $1.3 million. Together, they filed a civil claim against Fazeli in Clark County (Nevada) District Court.
According to a press release issued by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, Fazeli’s sentencing is set for January 28th, 2019. He faces up to 20 years in prison.