California Poker Pro Ali Fazeli Charged Over $6.2M Ticket Fraud
Orange County, California poker pro Seyed Reza Ali Fazeli has been indicted on two wire-fraud-related felony counts connected to the alleged bilking of $6.2 million from investors who were talked into funding Fazeli’s ticket-resale businesses.
However, according to a release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, Fazeli, 49, never purchased any of those tickets, for such events as the 2017 Super Bowl and the 2018 World Cup. Instead, according to prosecutors, Fazeli converted that $6.2 million for his personal use, including the frequent entries into small-field, super-high-roller tourneys at the Aria in Las Vegas.
Here’s the meat of the statement issued by USAO-CDC:
… The indictment alleges that Fazeli ran a Las Vegas-based ticket business called Summit Entertainment, which also operated under the names onlinetickets.com and pacertickets.com. From May 2016 through at least May 2017, Fazeli solicited investors in Orange County, Houston and Las Vegas, Nevada to send approximately $6.2 million to Summit to purchase tickets to the 2017 Super Bowl and the 2018 World Cup. Fazeli allegedly told investors that Summit would resell the tickets at a substantial profit and share the proceeds with the investors.
Investors wired more than $6 million to Summit to purchase tickets for last year’s Super Bowl, but after the event Fazeli failed to provide any profit distribution to investors, according to the indictment. Fazeli allegedly falsely told the victims that the ticket sales did not go well because the NFL prohibited their resale and that he was working on a settlement with the NFL.
According to court documents, Fazeli never purchased large amounts of Super Bowl or World Cup tickets as promised. Instead, he used the money for gambling expenses at the Aria and Bellagio casinos in Las Vegas and for personal expenses. …
Fazeli, who is known as both Ali Fazeli and Seyed Fazeli, is currently ranked 643rd on the Hendon Mob’s list of career global tourney winnings. However, the majority of Fazeli’s official $2,236,488 in tourney winnings — including all eight of his six-figure cashes — come from Aria High Roller events, which run frequently and feature a $25,000 buy-in.
The Aria’s more-or-less-impromptu events generally fill just a handful of tables and feature the same core players, and their inclusion in such ranking lists as the Global Poker Index (GPI) are a separate topic of debate, though Fazeli emerges as a most curious participant. He won three of the things between June and November of 2016 and cashed in 11 of them overall, but he’s never cashed in any other event, anywhere, with a buy-in over $2,500, in tourney records going back to 2012.
Fazeli’s Aria success also stops abruptly in December of 2016; he has no recorded cashes anywhere after that date. Given that that date represents the rough mid-point of the “May 2016 through at least May 2017” period alleged in the complaint, one can wonder if a downturn in success at the Aria tables triggered a drying up of funds, leaving Fazeli with nothing to pay his waiting creditors.
Fazeli was arrested in connection with the case a month ago, though the matter only became public in recent days. Fazeli was released on $120,000 bond, and was ordered to appear in United States District Court for an arraignment on March 26. He could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted on both counts.
According to an update in the Orange County Register, Fazeli is also the target of several private lawsuits from investors as well. The dates in that story stretch Fazeli’s alleged conversion of the raised money back to some point in 2015, though there is some overlap with the federal case’s allegations.