'Hamilton' redux: New York man charged in $70 million ticket scheme
A former Queens math teacher is charged with a Ponzi scheme involving tickets to the Super Bowl, Broadway's "Hamilton" and the World Cup.
A New York man has been criminally charged with running a $70 million Ponzi scheme centered on the fake resale of tickets to events including football's Super Bowl, soccer's World Cup, the U.S. Open tennis tournament and the Broadway musical "Hamilton."
The arrest of Jason Nissen, 44, of Roslyn on Long Island, came 14 years after he was caught selling tickets to a free Dave Matthews Band concert to students at the Queens, New York high school where he then taught math.
Nissen's case is the second since January alleging that investors were defrauded over the sale of tickets to "Hamilton" and other popular events.
In that case, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges accusing Joseph Meli and Matthew Harriton of running a $97 million scam involving at least 138 investors.
Both have denied wrongdoing. Meli and another defendant were separately charged in a related criminal case.
Michael Bachner, a lawyer for Nissen, declined to comment.
Prosecutors said Nissen, the chief executive of New York-based National Event Co, lured investors since 2015 by promising to profitably buy and resell tickets.
But they said he diverted much of their money to enrich himself and repay earlier investors and used falsified documents and inflated accounts receivable ledgers, with the help of Photoshop, to conceal his fraud.
Nissen's victims allegedly included a private equity firm that invested $40 million and a Manhattan diamond wholesaler that has yet to recoup half of the $32 million it lent.
According to court papers, Nissen admitted his scheme to two victims this month.
Prosecutors said he told an executive at the diamond wholesaler on a May 7 phone call discussing a cache of "Hamilton" tickets that "some of it was real and some of it was fake.... The numbers are just all multiplied."
The next day, at a videotaped meeting with the executive and the wholesaler's chief financial officer, Nissen said he would go to jail if they did not provide more money, prosecutors said.
Court papers described the conversation.
"You were running a Ponzi scheme," the CFO said.
"I guess you want to call it ... I was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul," Nissen responded.
"Yeah. That's the definition of a Ponzi."
Nissen was fired from New York City schools in 2004, a spokesman for the city's Department of Education said.
The case is U.S. v. Nissen, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 17-mag-04096.